Skip to main content

Full text of "Parisian Sketches Letters To The New York Tribune 1875 1876"

See other formats

944.36 J27p 57-15167-- 

James, Henry > <v ". 

Parisian sketches* New 
York University Press* 

Kansas city public library 

kansas city, missouri 

Books will be issued only 

on presentation of library card. 
Please report lost cards and 

change of residence promptly. 
Card holders are responsible for 

all books, records, films, pictures 

other library 

out on their cards. 


Henry James 

H K N R Y J A M M 8 , J K , 


Parisian Sketches 


Edited with an Introduction by 


Washington Square 


1957 by New York University Press, Inc. 

Library of Congress catalogue card number: 577914 

Manufactured in the United States of America 


Henry James's Paris letters to the New York Trib- 
une of almost eighty years ago have been collected in 
this volume for the first time. Three of the letters were 
reprinted by James during his lifetime, the remainder 
were allowed to linger in the crumbling newspaper files 
in the hope that they would be forgotten. In recent 
years extracts from those letters that were devoted to 
the theater were included in Allan Wade's collection of 
James's dramatic criticism, The Scenic Art; and cer- 
tain passages dealing with paintings were incorporated 
by John L. Sweeney in his compilation of Henry 
James's art criticisms. The Pointer's Eye. The major- 
ity of the letters, however, remained uncollected, and 
available only to those who cared to read the files or 
the microfilm record. 

The documents contained in the appendix to this 
volume were copied by Use Dusoir Lind in 1950 during 
a search of the New York Herald Tribune archive car- 
ried out with the kind permission of Mrs. Helen Rogers 
Reid. They were subsequently used, with the permis- 
sion of Mrs. Reid and of Mr. William James, in an 
article published by Professor Lind in PMLA (De- 
cember 1951, Vol. LXVI, No. 6, 886-910) entitled 
"The Inadequate Vulgarity of Henry James." The edi- 
tors of the present volume wish to renew their thanks 
to Mrs. Reid and to Mr. James for having made this 
material available, and to the Houghton Library and 



the President and Fellows of Harvard College for Dr. 
EdePs continued access to the James family papers. 

The date of each of James's letters (in the date line) 
is that of the writing of the letter and was so used on 
publication. At the bottom of each letter we have in- 
serted a second date, that of the issue of the Tribune 
in which the letter appeared. Certain obvious typo- 
graphical errors and other misprints have been cor- 

I*. E. 


Preface v 

Introduction ix 

1. Paris Revisited 3 

2. Paris As It Is 14 

3. Versailles As It Is 23 

4. Parisian Sketches 33 

5. The Parisian Stage 44 

6. Parisian Life 54 

7. Parisian Topics 64 

8. Paris in Election Time 74 

9. Parisian Affairs 83 

10. Parisian Topics 93 

11. Art and Letters in Paris 104 

12. Chartres Portrayed 115 

13. Parisian Festivity 126 

14. Art in France 136 

15. Art in Paris 146 

16. Parisian Topics 157 

17. Parisian Topics 168 

18. George Sand 178 

19. Summer in France 188 

20. A French Watering Place 198 
Appendix: James-Reid Documents 209 
Notes 229 
Index 257 


In this book we have gathered together Henry 
James's Paris letters to the New York Tribute of 1875 
and 1876 his only newspaper writing during half a 
century devoted to the art of literature. In later years 
he contributed a few casual pieces to the London press, 
but these were clearly the work of a famous man of 
letters invited to say a few words in an unfamiliar 
medium. His commitment to the Tribune was of quite 
another character: he was young, he was confident, he 
was energetic, he had virtually his whole career to 
make. Moreover, he needed money, and he seems to 
have reasoned that he would gain valuable experience ; 
the narrator in one of his later tales suggests that "in 
picking up things" for a newspaper, a writer "would 
pick up life as well." 

There were to be two further attempts, in the 1890's, 
to write a certain kind of journalism, a series of "Lon- 
don Letters" for Harper's Weekly and some "American 
Letters" for Literature; but these, in reality, called for 
the sort of magazine writing Henry James had done 
from the time of his late adolescence. The Tribune 
experience was unique not only in that it required 
regularity of production as the "occasional correspond- 
ent" of a big Manhattan daily, but in the consequences; 
it was to have for certain of the novelist's later fiction. 

* isc 


At the turn of the century, twenty-five years after his 
Tribune work, the heroine of one of James's talcs rue- 
fully confesses she has agreed to write some London 
letters for a provincial paper: "I can't do them I 
don't know how, and don't want to. I do them wrong, 
and the people want such trash. Of course they'll sack 
me." All of Henry James's feelings about his news- 
paper experience may be discovered in these words, 

As in his attempt to write for the theater, Henry 
James approached his Tribime job with mixed feelings. 
He wanted to succeed, but he had distinct misgivings 
about American newspapers and the extent to which a 
man of letters could work for them without compromis- 
ing his art. If the United States had produced certain 
authoritative organs, such as the Tribune, it had also 
produced the fly-by-night sheets which Charles Dickens 
had satirized in Martin Chuzzlewit. The time was to 
come when Henry James himself would create "a re- 
cording slobbering sheet," The Reverberator, and its 
snooping correspondent, George Flack ; or the privacy- 
invading Henrietta Stackpole; or the ubiquitous Mat- 
thias Pardon, for whom "everything and everyone were 
everyone's business." "One sketches one's age but im- 
perfectly if one doesn't touch on that particular mat- 
ter, the invasion, the impudence, and shamelessness of 
the newspaper and the interviewer, the devouring pub- 
licity of life, the extinction of all sense between public 
and private." Henry James was to write these words 
in his notebook long after his Tribune phase. When he 



turned to that newspaper originally, however, it was 
because he esteemed it, and because it had been esteemed 
in the James family. His father had been a friend of 
Horace Greeley during the fight for Abolition, and had 
sent long, un journalistic letters from Europe during 
the family's wanderings abroad in the 1850's, which 
the paper had published. Here was precedent enough 
for his second son. 

The novelist was to describe, forty years later, how 
as a small boy he was taken by his father to the Trib- 
une offices, "a wonderful world indeed with strange 
steepnesses and machineries and noises and hurrying 
bare-armed, bright-eyed men, and amid the agitation 
clever, easy, kindly, jocular, partly undressed gentle- 
men (it was always July or August) some of whom I 
knew at home, taking it all as if it were the most natu- 
ral place in the world." He remembered some of the 
talk, too, among the newspaper people. One man spoke 
of the French theater, of an actress, Madame Judith, 
who was going to steal the laurels from the brow of 
Rachel. And another told how he had just come back 
from Chicago; the city was but a year or two old, 
"with plank sidewalks when there were any, and holes 
and humps where there were none, and shanties where 
there were not big blocks, and everything where there 
had yesterday been nothing." James wrote: "I became 
aware of the Comfidie. I became aware of Chicago." 
The newspaper was "big to me with the breath of great 
vague connections." 


For the adult Henry James the connections were no 
longer vague. He was acquainted with John Hay, who 
had been one of Lincoln's secretaries and was now as- 
sociated with the Tribune in various capacities that 
ranged from reporter to editorial writer. To him Henry 
first broached his idea that he might become a Paris 
correspondent. The newspaper had been using a Pari- 
sian chronicle written by Ars&ne Houssaye, a popular 
devotee of the arts, who had served for a time as ad- 
ministrator of the French national theater. He spe- 
cialized in novelty and human interest; his letters re- 
tailed gossip and miscellaneous impressions. But his 
correspondence was written in French, and one of 
Hay's jobs was to translate it. Henry James's letters 
would have the advantage of being written directly 
for publication; they would, moreover, reflect an 
American, rather than French, point of view. 

Hay had been from the first an admirer of Henry 
James's work. He accordingly wrote a memorandum 
to the Tribune's editor, Whitelaw Reid, informing him 
of the proposal and adding that James "considers the 
Tribune the only paper where business could be com- 
bined with literary ambition." He went on: 

I hope you will engage him instead of Houssaye. He will 
write better letters than anybody you know his wonder- 
ful style and keen observation of life and character. He 
has no hesitation in saying that he can beat Houssaye on 
his own ground, gossip and chronicle, and I agree with 
him. Besides, his name is almost, if not quite, equally valu- 
able and far more regarded by cultivated people. 

ooii * 


Houssaye was receiving $30 for a "not very good let- 
ter" requiring translation. Hay believed Henry would 
"write you a much better letter and sign his name to 
it" for $20 or $25. 

"I think exceedingly well of Henry James," Reid 
replied. "Go ahead and make the bargain with him." 
The matter was promptly settled. A memorandum of 
August 11, 1875, preserved in the Tribune letter books, 
says : "Henry James Jr. is engaged to do Paris letters 
in place of Houssaye at $20 gold, per letter, to begin 
about 25th October, 1875. Wfhitelaw] R[eid]." It is 
difficult to estimate in current terms what the gold 
dollar was worth in the fluctuating currencies of the 
then-young Third Republic, freshly emerged from the 
Franco-Prussian War and the Commune. But we do 
know that its purchasing power in Paris was consider- 
able. By writing two letters a month, Henry James 
would assure himself of ten gold dollars a week. 


Henry James crossed the Atlantic that autumn as 
he had planned, and took up his residence at No. 29 
Rue de Luxembourg* It is now known as the Rue Cam- 
bon and it runs from the grand boulevards, a short 
distance from the Place de la Madeleine, to the Rue 
de Rivoli The story of Henry James's year in Paris 
has been only sketchily told ; but its principal outlines 
are well known. The year was to throw its light far 
along James's literary road. He met Turgenev, whom 
he greatly admired, and was taken by the Russian to 



Flaubert's apartment, high up in the Rue du Faubourg 
St. Honore where he encountered Zola, Daudet, Ed- 
mond de Goncourt, and the as yet unpublished Mau- 
passant. It is something to conjure with that an Amer- 
ican writer in his early thirties, with his reputation still 
to be made, found himself received in the Flaubertian 
cenacle among the literary sons and grandsons of 

Elsewhere in Paris James distracted himself by fre- 
quenting the American "colony" that little group of 
New World settlers which from far back has clung to 
the entourage of the Arc de Triomphe and other fash- 
ionable quarters of the Right Bank, He found it less 
easy, inevitably, to gain access to French homes ; but 
in the few to which he was invited, he again discovered 
circles both literary and artistic. He settled rapidly 
into a pleasant routine of writing and of social life, 
with the Theatre Fran9ais always at hand to entertain 
him when other amusements failed. Appropriately 
enough, the novel he chose to write, at first destined for 
the Galaxy but sold finally to William Dean Howells 
for the Atlantic, dealt with an American in Paris. If 
we place the story of Christopher Newman beside the 
letters to the Tribune we can reconstruct the essential 
outlines of Henry James's life and interests during his 
winter in the French capital- 

A journalist looking at James's mode of life would 
say today that he had ample material at hand for the 
Tribune. The newspaper was not relying upon James 
for its French news coverage; for that it had the sea- 

mv * 

soned William H. Huntington, and for political stories 
it could also call upon the services of John Paul- James 
was free to deal with whatever struck his fancy in the 
Parisian scene. A contemporary correspondent would 
have found material enough in the smoke-filled Sunday 
afternoons at Flaubert's, Turgenev's apartment in the 
Rue de Douai, or even the quiet evenings at Auguste 
LaugePs, where the American writer met Ernest Renan. 
But James encountered these literary folk as a fellow 
writer and not as a journalist, and he could hardly 
make capital out of the advantage which he enjoyed. 
In one or two of his Paris letters he does indeed guard- 
edly allude to talk in literary circles which we can 
recognize as originating at Flaubert's ; but the allusion 
has been carefully depersonalized. Concerning Tur- 
genev, whom he carefully described in his intimate let- 
ters, he was wholly silent in his dispatches destined for 
the public, save to allude to a portrait of him hung in 
the Paris Salon a distinctly impersonal matter. 

What was left for the Tribune once James excluded 
his private experiences? There remained the theaters, 
the art shows, the occasional book, the newspaper con- 
troversies, and the human interest of the effervescent 
political scene which has always then as now pro- 
vided an endless source of color and rich debate for the 
Initiated spectator in Paris. The truth was, however, 
that Henry James did not know how to exploit this 
material in a newspaper's columns ; he ended by giving 
the Tribtwe largely the residue of his literary activi- 
ties. And he found the writing of the letters irksome. 


His correspondence with his family discloses how 
quickly he lost confidence in his capacity to give White- 
law Reid what he had so bravely guaranteed. Less than 
two weeks after dispatching his first Paris letter the 
novelist wrote (on December 3, 1875) to his brother 
William: "I can think of nothing to put into the Trib- 
une: it is quite appalling. But I suppose it will come." 
William replied: "Your first letter was a very good be- 
ginning, though one sees that you are to a certain ex- 
tent fishing for the proper tone or level," On December 
20 the novelist wrote to his father: "I have written 
three letters to the Tribune though I'm afraid the 
first was a failure from excessive length and being 
pitched in too vague and diffuse a key." On January 
11, 1876, he told his mother he was "sickened" by the 
headlines in his Tribune pieces. "I am glad my Tribune 
letters amuse you," he wrote in turn to Howells. "They 
are most impudently light-weighted, but that was part 
of the bargain." By April he was thoroughly unhappy. 
"The vulgarity and repulsiveness of the Tribune, when- 
ever I see it, strikes me so violently that I feel tempted 
to stop my letter," he told his father. "But I shall not, 
though of late there has been a painful dearth of 
topics to write about. But soon comes the Salon." He 
continues to complain of the lack of subject matter. As 
late as August, when the chore is at an end, he talks 
to Reid of "the dearth of topics during the last two 
or three weeks of my stay in Paris," and, as will be 
seen, he went outside his Paris assignment to write 
about Chartres and his stay at Etretat, lapsing from 



Parisian reportage into the familiar travel essay which 
came to him with tolerable ease and in which he had 
already proved himself. (These were the letters, the 
pictures of Chartres, Rouen, fitretat, which he deemed 
worthy later of rescuing from the newspaper files and 
placing between the covers of his travel book, Portraits 
of Places.) 

Try as he might, Henry James could never speak 
in his Tribune letters in the journalistic voice: it was 
a distinct falsetto which he could not cultivate. The 
voice we hear always is that of the artist and the artist- 
critic and one who had made all the arts his province. 
He had learned early that the arts are one, that the 
human consciousness is the prime source of the artistic 
process, that the act of creation calls upon the same 
faculties of imagination and feeling whether it finds 
expression in word, pigment, sound, or clay. When all 
else failed him, and his Tribune pen lagged, he lapsed 
into the use of his aesthetic faculties; he could also 
fall back on his faithful eyes, his incomparable powers 
of observation : 

The huge towers of Notre Dame, rising with their blue-* 
gray tone from the midst of the great mass round which 
the river divides, the great Arc de Triomphe answering 
them with equal majesty in the opposite distance, the 
splendid continuous line of the Louvre between, and over 
it all the charming coloring of Paris on certain days 
the brightness, the pearly grays, the flicker of light, the 
good taste, as it were, of the atmosphere all this is an 
entertainment which even custom does not stale. 


"Entertainment 35 doubtless for the mind and imagina- 
tion of Henry James, but what concern, we might won- 
der, would a Tribune reader have with atmospheric 
"good taste"? This is the painter at work, in blue-gray, 
pearl gray, and flickering light, but distinctly not the 
journalist, and we follow him as he enters Notre Dame 
and listens to vespers and watches "the sounding nave 
grow dusky and the yellow light turn pale on the east- 
ern clerestory." The effect is charming and the scene 
is beautifully imaged; indeed, we roam cheerfully 
through Paris on this Christmas Day of 1875 in the 
novelist's company picking up sights and colors, and 
see them framed in delicate visual pictures. But as we 
read, we seem almost to hear the groan of the Tribune 
copyreader who must edit the column for persons seek- 
ing in the Parisian letters what James later burlesqued 
as "smatter and chatter." In the same way, when we 
travel with the novelist to Versailles, and he is bent on 
writing a political piece about France's reorganized 
political institutions, we find him abridging his attend- 

in that musty little red and gold playhouse in which the 
Assembly sits, for the sake of wandering about the ter- 
races and avenues of the park. The day had that soft, 
humid mildness of which, in spite of the inveteracy with 
which you are assured here that every biting blast is "ex- 
ceptional," and which consequently piles up your accumu- 
lated conviction that it is the rule is really the keynote, 
the fonds, as they say, of the Paris winter weather. 



We can indeed imagine what the copyreader might say 
over the double-claused sentence, the quoted "excep- 
tional," the fonds of the matter! But a few sentences 
later the painter goes to work again : 

The long, misty alleys and vistas were covered with a sort 
of brown and violet bloom which a painter would have 
loved to reproduce, but which a poor proser can only 
think of and sigh. As it melts away in the fringe of the 
gray treetops, or deepens in the recesses of the narrow- 
ing avenues, it is the most charming thing in the world. 
All the old Hebes and Floras and Neptunes there are 
more to a square rod at Versailles than in any old garden 
I know, and I know, thank heaven, a great many were 
exposing their sallow nudities as if in compliment to the 
clemency of the weather. 

We have seen enough to understand what Henry 
James's problems were in writing these letters. It must 
be said, however, that if the Tribune reader accepted 
the literary tone, the unorthodox journalistic sentences, 
the substitution of color for fact, he found much to 
reward him, over and above the descriptive felicities. 
There is, for example, the little trip James makes to 
Durand-RuePs gallery to see the exhibition of the early 
impressionists, although he is still too rigid in his con- 
cepts of what painting should be to appreciate the 
revolution that these "refused" artists are bringing 
about. He tours the Salon of 1876 with the patience 
and vigor one requires in visiting this annual French 
display of miles of painted canvas ; Taine, Renan, Zola, 
Sainte-Beuve are mentioned, sometimes reviewed; we 


catch the novelist at a ball hearing Johann Strauss 
conduct his waltzes; and on a certain occasion he is 
present as Giuseppe Verdi leads his Requiem "with a 
certain passionate manner." We walk through the then 
brand-new Paris opera ; we muse over the traceries and 
carvings of Chartres before Henry Adams has set his 
studious eyes upon it; or we travel down the Seine to 
Rouen looking at scenery, and finally we relax on the 
beach at fitretat to enjoy the diving display of one of 
the actresses of the Palais Royal. 

The letters make rewarding reading if we can sur- 
render ourselves to James's constant need to intcllec- 
tualize and analyze experience. For the novelist is un- 
able to be the simple reporter. He criticizes ; he reflects ; 
he has a great many opinions. In sculpture he prefers 
figures which represent "ideal beauty." The animal 
statuary of Barye or the Carpeaux figures are too close 
to reality. The nudes seem to shiver in the winter cold, 
In painting, extremes of realism, such as Meissonier's 
minutely-depicted battle of Eylau, also displease him. 

The best thing, say, is a certain cuirassier, and in the 
cuirassier the best thing is his clothes, and in his clothes 
the best thing is his leather straps, and in his leather 
straps the best thing is the buckles. This is the kind of 
work you find yourself performing over the picture ; you 
may go on indefinitely. 

But he defends Decamps because "he shrinks from none 
of the atmospheric mysteries and complexities * , , 
the great charm of art is in its being a change from 


life, and not a still narrower consciousness of it." He 
reacts sharply to a morally ugly subject, such as the 
prize picture of the spring salon of 1876 "Locusta 
trying the effects of poisons before Nero." The pic- 
tures for which he professes admiration by Flandrin, 
Millet, Boldini, Decamps, Vollon, Chaplin, Munkascy 
are those which take their subject directly from life, 
which give an impression, a glimpse, frame a scene: 
a landscape, peasants, fisherwomen, the charm of young 
womanhood painted with elegance and grace, a strik- 
ing portrait of a lady in a blue dress these are the 
contemporary subjects to which he responds with 
warmth. His lengthy comment on Munkascy's studio 
interior, his preferred picture at the salon, is that "it 
is the work of a man who stands completely outside it 
and its superficial appeals." By "standing outside" 
James means the capacity of the artist to detach him- 
self from his subject, to see it aesthetically, and to have 
(we can complete James's statement) "regarding its 
texture and tone, a vision and a conviction" of his own. 
James is affirming, at the core of his criticism in these 
letters (and it applies to his reports on the dramatist's 
art, and the actor's as well) , the need for the artist to 
impose his own imaginative order upon his selected 
materials. Ultimately this affirmation will form the 
subject of one of his shortest and most suggestive tales, 
"The Real Thing." 

And yet it strikes one as strange that an artist who 
spoke of "texture and tone," of "atmospheric mys- 
teries and complexities," should have written with such 


discussing the Catholic education controversy; he is 
stanchly for the French Republic even while finding 
himself almost wholly in the company of monarchists ; 
and at the same time he is fearful of Republican ex- 
cesses and ignorances. He conveys a sense of shock 
part of it is a sop to his readers over the representa- 
tion of certain grosser realities in Zola. On the whole, 
however, his views are mild and constructive; one has 
the feeling of a man of even temper surveying life with 
equanimity and a fundamental faith in the high de- 
cencies and the future of civilization. 


The history of Henry James's relations with the 
Tribune can be briefly told. If James admitted to his 
family in Cambridge that he was having difficulty put- 
ting his letters together, he gave no inkling of this to 
Whitelaw Reid. He is always his usual cool, business- 
like, professional self in the correspondence with the 
editor. The covering letter he sent with his first dis- 
patch explained that "this is a thing which will have 
to come little by little" and expressed the hope that 
any headline prefixed to the letter would be "as brief 
and simple as possible." (This accounts for the "label" 
type of heading which was placed on James's letters.) 
When later one of his columns blossomed into subhead- 
ings, James promptly wrote a four-sentence letter 
making a most "earnest and urgent request" that the 
practice "be not continued." He added: "I object to 
it in the strongest possible manner and I entreat and 



beseech you to cause it to be suppressed. The thing is 
in every way disagreeable to me." 

Reid readily acquiesced. James was placated and 
continued to send Reid two letters a month with con- 
siderable punctuality. They ran from December into 
July. As summer drew near, Reid inquired how long 
James would be away from Paris and informed the 
novelist that "some applications have been made for 
Parisian correspondence, which we have denied at once, 
preparing to have the benefit of your service as long 
as we can." There was probably no special intention 
on the part of the editor to suggest to Henry James 
that substitutes for him were readily available, but the 
next sentence might have caused the novelist to pause. 
Reid told James that his letters had not aroused much 
talk in other journals. He added, however, "I think 
they have given a great deal of satisfaction to a large 
majority of our readers." James replied that he was 
glad of this but that his letters "could find an echo in 
the other papers I never expected." And he announced 
that he would be back in Paris in the autumn, quite 
prepared to continue his arrangement with the Tribune. 
It was at this moment, however, that Henry wrote to 
his father about the "vulgarity and repulsiveness" of 
the Tribime and said he felt "tempted to stop my 
letter." x 

x ln the columns of the Tribune during this period there 
are letters of praise for most of the correspondents but none 
for James, After Houssaye reappeared in the paper, writing 
a Parisian column from time to time, a group of readers wrote 



was a wholly reasonable reply, it went beyond mere ne- 
gotiation of an increase and touched James's profes- 
sional problems. Reid, the brilliant reporter and editor, 
only five years James's senior, was in reality telling 
the novelist that however admirable literary culture 
might be, it required a certain process of transforma- 
tion to be acceptable in the columns of a newspaper. 
His concluding remark had a peculiar and painful 
force : freely translated it could mean only that James's 
work had, in fact, not been good enough as journalism. 
The novelist was left defenseless. He could hardly try 
to convince Reid that he had indeed written good jour- 
nalism or that what he had written, although It was 
magazine work, was what the Tribune should take 
from him. So, too, the terms offered no ground for 
negotiation. He was to receive the same amount for less 
work. But this "less" involved a significant change, an 
invitation to be "newsy" more informative. A literary 
hack, or a professional journalist, a man who fashions 
his career by conforming to the needs of journals which 
take their standards from the reading public, might be 
addressed in this manner and would not think twice 
about it; but was it fair to ask this of a literary artist 
who offered his style, his reputation, his high individ- 
uality? Reid's commitment as editor forced him to take 
the journalist's point of view. James's dedication as 
artist and professional man of letters determined his 
reaction. The pen which answered Whitelaw Reid, 
from the comfortable tower guest room of the Chateau 


de Varennes, was perhaps more incisive than it had ever 
been in writing for the Tribune. 

James began mildly enough. He recognized that his 
letters were considered by Reid not "the right sort of 
thing for a newspaper." Indeed he said he had been ex- 
pecting to hear this from the editor. He could easily 
imagine that the general reader would not have time 
for his letters during an election period. He was quite 
prepared to grant that his writings would be more in 
place in a magazine. 

But I am afraid I can't assent to your proposal that I 
should try and write otherwise. I know the sort of letter 
you mean it is doubtless the proper sort of thing for 
the Tribune to have. But I can't produce it I don't know 
how and I couldn't learn how. It would cost me really 
more trouble than to write as I have been doing (which 
comes tolerably easy to me) and it would be poor economy 
for me to try and become "newsy" and gossipy. I am too 
finical a writer and I should be constantly becoming more 
"literary" than is desirable. To resist this tendency would 
be rowing upstream and would take much time and pains. 
If my letters have been "too good" I am honestly afraid 
that they are the poorest I can do, especially for the 
money ! I had better, therefore, suspend them altogether. 
I have enjoyed writing them, however, and if the Tribune 
has not been the better for them I hope it has not been 
too much the worse. I shall doubtless have sooner or later 
a discreet successor. 

What had begun as a gentle answer had ended in un- 
concealed anger. And James's derisive 'they are the 



poorest I can do, especially for the money" suggests 
that Reid's carefully chosen words, intended to distin- 
guish between the quality of James's writing and its 
usefulness In a newspaper, had wholly failed of effect. 
To tell James that his work was "too good" was also to 
tell him that he could not catch the pulse of the public. 
Reid had offered the precise criticisms which William 
James had repeatedly hammered at his brother : that he 
was too analytical, too refined, super-subtle. The in- 
tolerable irony was that all of Henry James's efforts 
had been directed at achieving the very objectives Reid 
held up for him, "brevity, variety, and topics of wide 
interest. 53 He had tried to write about matters which 
interested him, but without the certainty that they were 
of interest to his audience; he had on occasion been 
stilted in manner when he believed himself to be nat- 
ural ; he had been subtle even when he thought he was 
being obvious. Had he not, indeed, been trying to make 
a sow's ear out of a silk purse? 

Here the incident might be expected to close. In due 
course James tired of Paris and moved to London. His 
failure as a journalist may have contributed to his 
Parisian ennui. If his siege of Paris was not going well, 
he would lay siege to London. The British capital sur- 
rendered quickly. Within two years Henry James was 
a lion in Victorian society, the celebrated author of 
"Daisy Miller," a writer whose works were in constant 
demand in the magazines. The little unpleasantness 
with the Tribune had been left far behind. When the 



novelist revisited the United States in 1881, bringing 
with him his new renown as the author of The Portrait 
of a Lct,dy> he dined with Whitelaw Reid in the latter's 
New York home during Christmas week; and two years 
later they exchanged friendly letters when Henry asked 
to have certain of his old Tribune columns copied for 
inclusion in one of his travel volumes. 


To arrive at the end of our story we must jump 
across twenty years of Henry James's writing fame, 
almost the entire period of his "middle years," to 
January 5, 1895. On that evening a drizzly, unpleas- 
ant London evening after a five-year attempt to win 
a place in the theater, Henry James was brought face 
to face with a hostile audience. His long-cherished 
and carefully wrought Guy Domville, a handsomely 
mounted play, was booed by a group of irritated and 
unmannerly theatergoers. He seemed to accept the ver- 
dict and he abandoned the drama. He wrote in his note- 
book: "I take up my own old pen again the pen of 
all my old unforgettable efforts and sacred struggles." 
Three weeks after the ordeal of the first night, we find 
him writing (also in his notebook) the outline of a story 
"The idea of the poor man, the artist, the man of 
letters, who all his life is trying if only to get a living 
to do something vulgar, to take the measure of the huge 
fiat foot of the public." Was there not, he asked him- 
self, a story in that? 


It is suggested to me really by all the little backward 
memories of one's own frustrated ambition in particular 
by its having just come to me how, already twenty years 
ago, when I was in Paris writing letters to the N. Y. 
Tribune, Whitelaw Reid wrote to me to ask me virtually 
that to make 'em baser and paltrier, to make them . . . 
vulgar. . . . Twenty years ago, and so it has ever been, 
till the other night . . . the premiere of Guy Dorwtnlle. 

Henry James's imagination played over such old and 
still bitter memories in one of those intimate mono- 
logues which make of his notebooks a fascinating rec- 
ord of the creative process. He would trace the history 
of "a charming little talent, charming artistic nature," 
the victim of the effort to "make, as it were, a sow's 
ear out of a silk purse." 

He tries and he tries and he does what he thinks is coarsest 
and crudest. It's all of no use it's always "too subtle," 
always too fine never, never, vulgar enough. I had to 
write to Whitelaw Reid that the sort of thing I had al- 
ready tried hard to do for the Tribune was the very worst 
I could do. I lost my place my letters weren't wanted. 

For five months the idea lay dormant, but in June 
1895 James returned to it, recapitulating: "It is the 
old story of my letters to the N.Y.T. where I had to 
write to Whitelaw R. that they 'were the worst I could 
do for the money.' ... I lost that work, that 
place. . . ." And so the tale of Ray Limbert was born, 
the story of "The Next Time," in which the distin- 
guished young novelist, writing for The Blackport 


Beacon, does "the worst he can do for the money. 35 It 
was to be followed by others in the same pattern, such 
as "The Papers" James's direct attack on newspaper 
publicity in which the reporters also do "the worst we 
can for the money," and by "Broken Wings, 5 ' whose 
heroine avows, as we have seen, that in writing for The 
Blackport Banner she is attempting something beyond 
her talents. The light-giving beacon, the high-flying 
banner, are associated in both "The Next Time 35 of 
1895 and "Broken Wings" of 1900 with James's myth- 
ical town of Blackport or shall we say with the black 
forces of a press which, beneath its avowed aim of of- 
fering public enlightenment, vulgarizes all that it 

The notebook entries show that James had clearly 
associated "my letters weren't wanted" with the play 
which the public had so brutally told him it didn't 
want. And into "The Next Time," written during 1895 
and published in the Yellow Book, he wove his sense of 
being a rejected author wrote it out with an easy 
cheerfulness and mocking irony which cushioned inner 
heartbreak. The little pathetic comedy touches the 
eternal problem of the artist, aware of his gifts and 
insights, who discovers the extent to which these serve 
to cut him off from an insensitive world. 

As always in these fables Henry James dramatizes 
the situation by selecting high contrasts: there is the 
novelist, Ray Limbert, who wants to write a crashing 
best seller and succeeds in producing masterpiece after 

- ocxtxm 


masterpiece which only a discriminating few appreci- 
ate ; beside him James places the figure of a writer of 
endless successes "the spoiled child of the booksellers" 
who just once would like to be an "exquisite failure. 55 
Jane Highmore, the prolific lady, argues that a success 
is "as prosaic as a good dinner : there was nothing more 
to be said about it than that you had had it." Mrs. 
Highmore wants to treat herself, so successful has she 
been, to "an hour of pure glory": she would like to 
write a great book rather than a merely successful one. 
Yet each of her novels outsells its predecessor, and 
every work Ray Limbert writes trying all the while 
to make it vulgar enough to earn him his bread and 
butter ends as a glorious failure. 

Thus the adequate and inadequate vulgarity are 
placed into the scales. For a while Limbert works for 
The Blackport Beacon. What follows Henry James 
reproduced from life, without the changes his imagina- 
tion usually wrought in his fictions. It was as if he had 
just reread his correspondence with Whitelaw Reid. 
The Beacon wants "something more chatty" from Lim- 
bert, they ask him to make his columns gossipy, per- 
sonal. "Why, that's just what his letters have been!" 
the narrator exclaims. But apparently Limbert hasn't 
stooped low enough. And he burns his bridges by echo- 
ing Henry James's oft-repeated remark he has done 
the very worst he can do for the money ! * 

2 That James continued to see his relationship to journalism 
in this manner is further indicated in an unpublished letter 



In the remaining episodes of the story Limbert tries 
to edit a magazine with the same fatal exquisiteness. 
The circulation takes a plunge and he is again out on 
the street, writing his unwanted novels and without the 
means to support his wife and children. His serialized 
The Major Key is "rather a great performance than a 
great success." He dreams always that perhaps "the 
next time" he will achieve the necessary vulgarity, the 
vigorously sought lucrative commonplace. Meanwhile 
the financial pressures bear down upon him. 

Within doors and without Lambert's life was overhung by 
an awful region that figured in his conversation, compre- 
hensively and with unpremeditated art, as Upstairs. It 
was Upstairs that the thunder gathered, that Mrs. Stan- 
nace kept her accounts and her state, that Mrs. Limbert 
had her babies and Her headaches, that the bells for ever 
jangled at the maids, that everything imperative in short 
took place everything that he had somehow, pen in hand, 

written by him in 1897 shortly after he had ceased contrib- 
uting his series of "London Letters" to Harper's Weekly. 
To his journalist friend, W. Morton Fullerton he wrote: 

"Journalism will have absolutely none of me. The Harpers 
ten months ago asked me in a deluded hour for some 'London 
letters' for their 'Weekly'; and I accepted, for the money, 
which was considerable, and wrote some nine or ten monthly 
ones. Or, they have just -written to me, dismissing me as you 
scarce would an incompetent housemaid. And yet I tried to be 
so Base! yes, yes your man is right. Be of a platitude; 
nothing else will serve. Be as empty as a vacuum and as gen- 
eral as an omnibus." 



to meet, to deal with and dispose of, in the little room on 
the garden level. 

But the "next time" never comes. Limbert writes 
himself to death, the pen falls from his fingers without 
his ever having achieved a modicum of the popularity 
he needed in order to live; and Jane Highmore goes 
her way still hoping for her "next time," when she will 
write something that will be ignored by the multitude 
and praised by the few. For her, too, the "next time" 
will never come. 


Today, almost a century after James's letters were 
written to the Tribwie, they may be read not so much 
for the ephemeral things they chronicled as for the 
picture they offer us of a sensitive and discriminating 
American, an American of large imagination, saunter- 
ing through the very French scenes to which thousands 
of his countrymen continue to flock. They can be read 
equally for their vivid and lively prose ; they stem, after 
all, from the same fertile pen which wrote the novels, 
the criticism, the autobiographies. The Parisian 
sketches may be too literary, too reflective, as journal- 
ism, but they possess intelligence and suavity, they 
speak for good manners, refined taste, high civilization. 
The letters, and the stories which were an outcome of 
them, raise certain fundamental issues: the function 
of responsible journalism, the danger to privacy result- 
ing from certain newspaper conditions and the deprav- 
ity of public taste; the danger James was prophetic 


of the reporter who, under the banner of "freedom 
of the press," considers himself free to peep through 
every keyhole. In creating George Flack, James pre- 
dicted a now all-too-familiar type. In inventing The 
Reverberator, he not only documented for posterity a 
certain kind of scandal sheet of his time, but foresaw 
the advent of the twentieth-century tabloid. And in his 
late stories of frustrated and misunderstood authors 
"The Death of the Lion," "The Next Time," "The 
Figure in the Carpet" he expressed much more than 
his personal feeling that the finest things in art suffer 
for want of fine appreciation. He seemed indeed to fore- 
see that the artists of our century would be under pres- 
sures similar to those which weighed on Limbert pres- 
sures of the mass media asking the creative mind to 
substitute the obvious for the subtle, the coarse for the 
fine, the cliche for original utterance. In this way he 
made universal what had been a private experience: 
converted it into an artist's creed proclaiming the sov- 
ereignty of style, the sacred uniqueness of the creative 



New York University 



Letter from Henry James, Jr. 





PARIS, Nov. 22. I have often thought that some 
very entertaining remarks might be made under the 
title of "Paris Revisited" remarks that would find an 
echo in many an American heart. The American who 
comes to Paris for the first time receives, of course, a 
multitude of agreeable impressions; he takes to the 
French capital, generally speaking, as a duck to water, 
and he is not slow in maturing his opportunities for 
diversion. But no American, certainly, since Americans 
were, has come to Paris but once, and it is when he re- 
turns, hungrily, inevitably, fatally, that his sense of 
Parisian things becomes supremely acute. In the inter- 
val it may have faded and faltered, and tempted him 
to fancy that distance was lending enchantment and 
memory playing him a trick. Was it really so very 
good as all that? Were the dinners at wherever you 
Notes begin on page two hundred and twenty-nine. 


Parisian Sketches 

choose so unfathomably to the purpose ; were the shop 
fronts in the Rue de la Paix so picturesquely irresistible ; 
was there in the acting of Celine Chaumont x so infinite 
a titillation? Our friend comes back with a standard, 
with an ideal, and it is now his pleasure to see whether 
the city o his predilection will keep her promises. It is 
safe to say that, as a general thing, she does, and that 
at those points where she is really strong she wears well. 
You may not like Paris, and if you are not extremely 
fond of her you will in all probability detest and abomi- 
nate her. I have known admirable cases of both states 
of mind, and the height of my ambition is to do im- 
partial justice to each. But even if you don't like her 
you must at any rate admit that there are certain 
matters that she understands to perfection, and that if, 
from necessity or from choice, one allows these things 
to play a large part iii his life, one inevitably comes to 
think that the problem of existence is solved more com- 
fortably here than elsewhere. The French have always 
flattered themselves that they have gone further in the 
art of living, in what they call Ventente de la vie, than 
any other people, and with certain restrictions the claim 
is just. So far as a man lives in his senses and his tastes, 
he certainly lives as well here as he can imagine doing ; 
and so far as he lives by the short run, as it were, rather 
than by the long, he is equally well off. They seem to 
me to understand the "long run" much better in Eng- 
land. There, if you live by the year, or by the semi- 
decade, say, you are free to find yourself at all points 
in relation with the world's best things. But the merit 

Paris Revisited 

of Paris is that you have not to look so far ahead, and 
that without heavy machinery, by the day, by the 
month, by the season, you are surpassingly comfort- 
able. There is to be found here, in other words, a 
greater amount of current well-being than elsewhere. 
And if I spoke just now of a gentleman's senses and 
tastes, it is that they are certainly a very respectable 
class of phenomena. We most of us transact our moral 
and spiritual affairs in our own country, and it is not 
cynical to say that for most of us the transaction is 
rather rapidly conducted. We wander about Europe 
on a sensuous and esthetic basis eating good dinners^ 
rolling over smooth roads, served by sympathetic do- 
mestics, staring at picturesque scenery, listening to 
superior music, watching accomplished acting. We have 
all our private joys and miseries, which demand a 
greater or less amount of attention; but the average 
American in Europe, traveler or resident, makes up 
the substance of his life out of these things. Whether 
he might not do better is a question I am not discussing ; 
certain it is that these things are offered him in Paris 
in a fashion which enables him to lay down his money 
with one hand and take with the other in perfect se- 
curity. His security puts him in good humor, and 
though he has decidedly to lay down more money each 
year than the last, he finds nothing to break the charm, 
and mutilates an axiom which he considers philosophic, 
to the effect that it is better to pay much for delights 
than for disappointments. 

This autumnal season, which is just coming to a 

Parisian Sketches 

close, is the time at which this appreciative alien may 
be chiefly observed at his devotions. The numerous 
Americans who have been spending the summer in Eu- 
rope congregate doubly during September and October 
upon the classic region, about a square mile in extent, 
which is bounded on the south by the Rue de Eivoli and 
on the north by the Rue Scribe, and of which the most 
sacred spot is the corner of the Boulevard des Capu- 
cines, which basks in the smile of the Grand Hotel. The 
ladies, week after week, are treading the devious ways 
of the great shops the Bon Marche, the Louvre, the 
Compagnie Lyonnaise; the gentlemen are treading 
other ways, sometimes also, doubtless, a trifle devious. 
It has seemed to me, however, this year, that our com- 
patriots are decidedly less numerous than usual, and 
that on a walk from the new Opera 2 to the Palais Royal 
one really hears almost as much French as American. 
The explanation of the mystery, of course, is in the 
fact that people at home "feel poorer," but the Ameri- 
can idiom is dear to Parisian ears, and the sorrows of 
Wall Street find an echo on the boulevards. 3 I don't 
mean by this, of course, that the shops are perceptibly 
shabby. Paris seems more than ever, superficially, a vast 
fancy bazaar, a huge city of shop fronts. But it may 
at least be hoped that if the autumnal scramble for 
petticoats has been less frantic than usual, there have 
been, in compensation, fewer cases of smiling perjury 
over the counters and of hope deferred at the hotels. 

Parisian affairs proper are just now rather quiet, 
and there is nothing very noticeable going on. The 


Paris Revisited 

winter, and what for good or for ill the winter brings 
with it, has hardly begun. When I speak of Paris I do 
not include Versailles, where, as you know, the Assem- 
bly has for some time been in session, busily arranging 
the manner of its own demise, or rather of its resurrec- 
tion. 4 The new electoral law has been exhaustively dis- 
cussed, and it would seem that there is nothing left but 
to put it manfully into practice. When this has been 
peaceably and regularly done, and a new Assembly is 
lawfully installed, the largest step yet will have been, 
taken toward making the Republic seem a permanently 
reasonable and comfortable state of things. In Paris 
the first symptoms of the winter are to be looked for 
at the theaters. Most of them are bringing out at this 
time the pieces which they expect to carry them through 
the next six months or through as many of them as 
may be. The Fra^ais, as yet, has given only promises ; 
but its promises cast the performances of the others in 
the shade. The Theatre Fran^ais has in rehearsal a 
piece by the younger Dumas/ and this constitutes, from 
the Parisian point of view, a very great event. A coup 
d'Stai by Marshal MacMahon, an invasion of France 
by Prussia it would take something of that sort to 
equal it. M. Dumas is a great favorite with the Figaro 
newspaper, and the Figaro's compliments which is 
saying a great deal are almost as ingenious as its 
abuse. 6 Either in good humor or in bad it is, to my 
sense, a most detestable sheet; but it certainly under- 
stands in perfection the art of advertising a man. It 
has kindled a crackling fire under the Etrwigere, and 

- 7 - 

Parisian Sketches 

it will keep the pot boiling until the play is produced. 
The greater part of the Figaro, the other day, was 
taken up with an article of many columns about the 
reading of the play to the actors. Of course the papers 
could say very little that was definite, for the subject 
was not to be deflowered. But everything that talking 
without telling could do the Figaro achieved; it even 
gave the names of the characters a piece of informa- 
tion which, for Dumas' regular admirers, leaves infinite 
pasture for the imagination. The French have a par- 
ticular word for this sort of literary service ; they call 
it to soigner an artist or his work to take care of them. 
L'fttrangere is being very well taken care of. Victorian 
Sardou T has hitherto been supposed, I believe, to enjoy 
the supreme good fortune in the way of having his 
plays talked about, and even quarreled about, before- 
hand. But I believe Sardou has been accused of pulling 
the wires himself, and this Alexandra Dumas neither 
needs nor would condescend to do. Sardou, however, has 
just produced very quietly at the Gymnase a long serio- 
comic drama which is pronounced good, but not good 
for Sardou. There would some day be something in- 
teresting to say about this supremely skillful contriver 
and arranger a man who, as" one may phrase it, has 
more of the light and less of the heat of cleverness than 
anyone else; and if F err Sol is still being played when 
the day Comes round, it will serve as a text. 

The new Opera is open, and to all appearance very 
prosperous. There were many prophecies, I believe, 
that so elaborate an establishment could never be a 

Paris Revisited 

paying enterprise, but the present fortune of the Opera 
seems to be very positively confuting them. The winter 
has not begun, the class of people who keep their opera 
box as they keep their coupe has not returned to Paris, 
and yet the magnificent house is magnificently full. On 
the other hand, this is a season when strangers and 
provincials are numerous, and everyone has to go at 
least once to see the house. When the house has been seen, 
it may be less crowded. The new Opera has been for 
any time these six years the most obvious architectural 
phenomenon in Paris, and this may seem rather a late 
day for speaking of it; but now that the whole great 
edifice stands complete, and that the regime that pro- 
duced it has crumbled away around it, it has a sort of 
significance and dignity which were not down in the 
program. The Opera is already a historical monument ; 
it resumes in visible, sensible shape what the Empire 
proposed to itself to be, and it forms a kind of symbol 
a very favorable one of the Empire's legacy to 
France. There may be differences of opinion about the 
beauty of the building ; to my sense it is in a high de- 
gree picturesque and effective, but it is not beautiful; 
but no one can deny that it is superbly characteristic ; 
that it savors of its time ; that it tells the story of the 
society that produced it. If this, as some people think, 
is the prime duty of a great building, the Opera is an 
incomparable success. It seems to me that a noble edi- 
fice should say something to a community as well as of 
it, and that unless, in both ways, it can speak agree- 
ably, it had better hold its tongue. The outside of the 

Parisian Sketches 

Opera is, I repeat, however, an old story ; it is only the 
great golden salle itself that is a current question. If 
France is down in the world just now, there is some- 
thing fine in seeing her make her protest, recover her 
balance, where and how she can. It does it along a cer- 
tain line just now at the Opera, where they are giving 
the Hamlet of Ambroise Thomas, with Mme. Carvalho 
and Faure. 8 It is the French genius alone that pays 
the cost of the spectacle French architecture, French 
painting, French music, French singers, and certainly, 
in spite of Shakespeare, a French libretto. Ophelia, in 
her madness, comes forth and delivers her rue and rose- 
mary to the corps de 'ballet, M. Thomas' music is pon- 
derous and monotonous, but nobler singing and acting 
than Faure's and more artistic vocalization than Mme. 
Carvalho's it would be impossible to find. The house 
is perhaps a trifle disappointing a trifle less fabulous 
and tremendous than one was encouraged to suppose 
it. Reasonably viewed, it is superb and uninteresting. 
It is nothing but gold gold upon gold; it has been 
gilded till it is dark with gold. This is doubtless, from 
the picturesque point of view, rather a fine effect for 
a theater to produce. The really strong points at the 
Opera are the staircase and the -foyer. The staircase is 
light and brilliant, though I think a trifle vulgar ; an 
immense affair of white marble, overlaid with pale 
agates and alabasters, climbing in divergent arms and 
crowned with a garish fresco of nymphs and muses, in 
imitation (of all people in the world) of Luca Gior- 
dano. 9 If the world were ever reduced to the dominion 

10 * 

Paris Revisited 

of a single gorgeous potentate, the foyer would do very 
well for his throne room. It is a most magnificent apart- 
ment, and, like the auditorium, gilded all over a foot 
thick a long golden corridor whose only reproach is 
that it leads nowhere. It could lead to nothing grander 
than itself. In the faraway ceiling, dimly and imper- 
fectly through the dusky glow of gas and gilding, you 
make out the great series of frescoes by M. Baudry. 10 
They are very noble and beautiful, and the most inter- 
esting things in the building. You manage to perceive 
that much of this is exquisite, and you cannot help 
feeling a certain admiration for a building which can 
afford to consign such costly work to the reign of cob- 

A month ago the shopwindows in New York were 
filled with portraits of Ernesto Rossi, the Italian trage- 
dian, 11 who was coming over to tread in the deep foot- 
prints of Salvini or as he hoped, I suppose, to make 
new ones of his own. You will have perceived by this 
time that he has not arrived, though you may but im- 
perfectly appreciate his motives for breaking his en- 
gagement. He is having a quite extraordinary success 
in Paris, and he remembers the adage about a bird in 
the hand. On his way to embark for America he 
stopped a night in Paris to play and the next morn- 
ing he found himself famous. I am very sure that 
his great part, Kean, would not have encountered in 
America the prosperity it enjoys here, where it has 
been played steadily for the last two weeks a great 
triumph for a drama in a foreign tongue. Kecvn is 


Parisian Sketches 

the late Edmund Kean, the English tragedian, as por- 
trayed by the late Alexandra Dumas. The part was 
created by Frederic Lemaitre, and was one of his 
most extraordinary achievements. 12 I listened to Rossi 
the other night in company with an old gentleman of 
a retrospective turn, who would let nothing pass with- 
out assuring me that "Frederick" did it fifty times 
better. But in spite of my neighbor I enjoyed Rossi 
in spite of my neighbor and in spite of Kean. The play 
is the most fantastic farrago of high-spirited nonsense 
that even the impudent imagination of Alexandre 
Dumas could offer as a picture of "insular" manners. 
The first three quarters of the piece are mortally dull 
(in the Italian version) , and Rossi is remarkable but 
not exciting. But toward the end of the fourth act poor 
Edmund Kean is represented as refusing to act his part 
because he is in a passion of jealousy of George IV, 
who is making love to his mistress. He rages up and 
down his dressing room, and declines to go on, though 
manager and prompter and dresser are all on their 
knees to him. At last George IV comes In, and joins 
in the suppliant chorus, but Kean laughs in his face, 
and still keeps the house waiting. At last he is reminded 
that the performance is for the benefit of a crippled 
clown, who was his comrade in the days when he made 
his living by turning somersaults at fairs, and at this 
hint he collapses, wraps himself in the mantle of Ham- 
let, and plunges into his part. In the next scene we see 
him on the stage consorting with Ophelia, and fever- 
ishly watching George IV in the house. This scene is 


Paris Revisited 

brief and rapid, but it is admirably played, and it de- 
cides in a moment the actor's success. Kean, consumed 
with jealousy, sees George IV enter the box of the 
woman he loves, and from this moment he is less and 
less in his part and more and more certain to fling it 
aside and betray himself. At last he does so in a mag- 
nificently grotesque explosion of wrath at the Prince 
and sarcastic abuse of himself tumbler, clown, vile 
histrion, Punchinello ! He rushes to the footlights and 
pours out a volley of delirious bravado. "Punchinello? 
so be it!" he cries, and he shoulders his princely 
sword, like Punch's stick, and executes a sort of furious 
mocking dance. It is horribly and yet most effectively 
fantastic, and it makes nearly all the tumult in the 
theater that the real scene might have made. Rossi will 
doubtless do this quite as well in America, if he ever 
gets there; but will it be as highly relished? I doubt it. 
The Paris theater-going public seizes an artist's in- 
tention with extraordinary alertness. 

December 11, 1875 



Letter from Henry James, Jr. 







PARIS, Dec. 6. It seldom happens in Paris that 
there is absolutely nothing taking place in the way of 
an exhibition of pictures or of sculpture, though of 
course the interest of the proffered works is not on 
every occasion of the highest order. Ten days ago was 
opened an exhibition to which the clever gentlemen 
who do the feuilletons in the daily papers have all been 
paying their compliments a collection of the bronzes 
of the sculptor Barye, who died last spring at seventy- 
nine years of age. 1 Barye was a specialist he produced 
little else than wild beasts, in attitudes more or less 
ferocious and voracious. But in this line he was a man 
of genius, and his lions and tigers have an extraor- 
dinary reality. They are familiar half the world over, 


Paris As It Is 

for he worked chiefly for the trade, and his models 
were numerously reproduced on a small scale. To have 
on one's mantel-shelf or one's library table one of 
Barye's businesslike little lions diving into the entrails 
of a jackal, or one of his consummate leopards licking 
his fangs over a lacerated kid, has long been considered 
the mark, I will not say of a refined, but at least of an 
enterprising taste. Barye's early career was unsuccess- 
ful ; year after year he knocked in vain at the door of 
the Salon. His youth was spent in composing ineffec- 
tual Cains and Abels, Josephs and Jacobs ; and it was 
not till he was nearly forty that he struck his vein. In 
1833 he exhibited his famous "Lion at Rest/' and be- 
gan his fortune. Thus for the first time the unclean, 
prowling, muscular beast of the jungles and deserts 
made his entrance into sculpture; realism had begun 
for everything else, and it was time it should begin for 
him. The treatment of animals, in statuary, had always 
been a compromise especially as regards the nobler 
ones. They had always been more or less chimerical and 
decorative, and the lion, in particular, had figured as 
a sort of ingenious compound of the sphinx and the 
poodle. But Barye came to his rescue with a good will 
not inferior to that of Bottom the Weaver, in the play ; 
he learned his secrets and represented him in all his 
majesty, but in all his gluttony too. In his later years 
the sculptor was appointed Professor of Drawing in the 
Museum of Natural History, and the Jardin des 
Plantes was allotted to him as his field of study and of 
demonstration. The Jardin des Plantes was his Africa 

- 15 

Parisian Sketches 

and his Asia. Though he spent half his life in modeling 
wild beasts, he was a Parisian of Parisians, and he never 
had the curiosity or the energy to take a look at the 
veritable East. He perhaps felt the force of that truth 
(which is by no means the paradox it seems) that for 
artistic purposes there is such a thing as knowing too 
much about your subject. There are doubtless many 
matters in regard to which a little knowledge is a dan- 
gerous thing ; but I should say that often, for the artist, 
it is a great knowledge that is dangerous in the sense 
that it crowds out inspiration and imagination. When 
a writer or a painter says in answer to a request to make 
a sketch of a certain place or person, "Oh! I can't; I 
have been there too long ; I have seen him too often !" 
he is talking purer reason than he may get credit for. 
But this idea with regard to Barye is quite hypotheti- 
cal, and it is certain that, within his chosen opportuni- 
ties, he was a diligent and profound observer. He spent 
most of his time at the Jardin des Plantes, and lived in 
as familiar intercourse with his tawny models as the 
intervention of an iron railing would allow. When he 
wanted a background of wilderness he looked for it in 
the forest of Fontainebleau. He was a painter as well 
as a sculptor, and the walls of the exhibition of the 
ficole des Beaux Arts are covered with small pictures 
from his hand, in oils and water colors, representing 
lions, tigers, and elephants, in the occasional grotesque- 
ness of a state of nature. Some of them are lying on 
their backs, kicking up their heels. The landscape in 
these paintings, which are surprisingly humorous, is 


Paris As It Is 

always the oaks and bushes, the mossy glades and gran- 
ite boulders of Fontainebleau. Barye had never come 
before the world as a painter, and his brush does not 
strike us as a particularly accomplished one. His color 
is muddy, and his outline (singular to say, in a sculp- 
tor) indefinite. That his amateurish attempts with, the 
brush should have been deemed worthy of such exhaus- 
tive exhibition, and that they should have been so seri- 
ously noticed by the critics, proves what a standing 
fund of curiosity there is in Paris upon all artistic 
matters. For the rest, I confess, as well, the exhibition 
slightly disappointed me. It is held in the great dusky 
public hall of the ficole des Beaux Arts, which opens 
upon the Seine, and the temperature and atmosphere 
of this place, on these sleety December days, are not 
conducive to dreamy contemplation. Barye's works, 
with very few exceptions, are small, and, in the imper- 
fect light, require a very close inspection. It must be 
added that they generally repay it. He had caught in 
perfection the expression of the more formidable mem- 
bers of the feline race, and he renders it with incom- 
parable certainty and vigor. He has represented them 
in every possible attitude and manifestation of their 
passions, and it is always the living, growling creature 
that we see, with its infinite resources of sinuosity and 
strength. As you look at these little bronzes of Barye, 
so full as they are of compressed movement and science, 
they seem to expand to the size of nature, and your eye 
follows the beautiful lines of spine and muscle, and 
loses itself in the softer places of the hide, as if the little 

17 * 

Parisian Sketches 

scratches were real stripes and spots, and the fractions 
of inches were feet. Everything in these creatures is ad- 
mirable the moving, palpable curve of back and tail, 
the strong, soft footfall, the irresistible sense of the 
perfect mechanism within. But the best thing is the 
heads and faces. Barye studied the leonine countenance 
until it had no secrets for him, and he modeled it in all 
its beautiful hideousnessl Some of his animals, throwing 
back their heads from the carcass in their paws, while 
they swallow a peculiarly tender morsel, have an ex- 
traordinary truth to nature; you seem to see the flatten- 
ing of the head, and the softening and contraction of 
the yellow eyes, and to hear the comfortable snarl and 
gurgle of the throat. Nothing in this way was too diffi- 
cult for Barye to attempt ; like all real masters he rel- 
ished difficulties, he loved them, and he triumphantly 
solved the problem of impossible attitudes and incon- 
ceivable combinations. One of his works is in this respect 
prodigious ; the "Combat of the Centaur and the Lapi- 
tha" is, perhaps, indeed, the strongest of his produc- 
tions. The Lapitha is astride of the Centaur's back, 
locking his flanks in his powerful knees, swinging a 
club in his uplifted arm. The Centaur's torso is twisted 
back with an admirable play of muscle, and he is fiercely 
trying to unseat his enemy. The subject is magnificent, 
and the author has handled the human element in it 
with a skill which, for him, is quite exceptional. His 
men and women, of whom there are several specimens, 
are rather gross and unshaped; all his delicacy, gen- 
erally speaking, is in his wild beasts. But here the man 


Paris As It Is 

is as good as the horse, and the monstrous rage of the 
creature who finds that the combined resources of both 
man and horse are helpless to assist him has a really 
tragic expression. Though Barye was weak, outside o 
his animals, he had once a conception which, if he had 
been permitted to execute it, might have proved sub- 
lime. It would have drawn half its sublimity, indeed, 
from animal beauty. While the decoration of the Arc 
de Triomphe was still unfinished (in 1840), it was sug- 
gested to Barye to execute a group to be placed on the 
summit. He proposed a gigantic eagle, of 70 feet from 
wing to wing, lighting upon a colossal aggregation of 
captured towns and trophies the eagle of victory 
perched upon the spoils of conquest. I don't know how 
it would have looked, but it sounds very fine. The plan 
was not carried out, as it was thought rather imperti- 
nent to the "conquered" nations whichever, in 1840, 
they were. One thing more to be noticed is that the ex- 
hibition at the ficole des Beaux Arts is (as I have seen 
it well observed) an elaborate representation of cruelty. 
All Barye's animals or almost all are tearing some- 
thing to pieces, devouring, fighting, weltering in blood. 
"The works of M. Barye, or the plastic beauty of feroc- 
ity" that would have been a good name for the col- 
lection. If I had known nothing of its history, and had 
been asked to what period of art these beautiful little 
bronzes belonged, I should have said that they were 
made to amuse the ladies and gentlemen of the later 
Roman empire, when they wished, in their houses, a 
little memento of the entertainments of the circus. 


Parisian Sketches 

France lost a few weeks since another eminent sculp- 
tor, whose funeral has just taken place at his native 
city of Valenciennes after a rather ungraceful delay, 
produced by the conflicting claims of his fellow citizens 
and of his widow, from whom he had been separated, 
and who is accused of having unduly neglected him 
during the last months of his life. Carpeaux was made 
famous by the extraordinary group of "La Danse," 
which he contributed to the decoration of the new 
Opera. 2 Every visitor to Paris has gazed at it in min- 
gled admiration and perplexity, and it is a work which, 
so long as it stands there, will be sure to have gazers 
enough. If the whole building is characteristic of its 
time and place, Carpeaux's group is its most character- 
istic feature. An exhibition of his works is, I believe, 
already projected, and when it takes place I will speak 
of him more fully. He had immense talent, and if to 
seize and imprison in clay or marble the look of life and 
motion is the finest part of an artist's skill, he was a 
very great artist. The shop windows just now are full 
of reproductions of his figures and busts. They are the 
most modern things in all sculpture. That undressed 
lady and gentleman who, as distinguished from the un- 
consciously naked heroes and heroines of Greek art, are 
the subjects of modern sculpture, have reached in Car- 
peaux's hands their most curious development. In this 
vicious winter weather of Paris, behind their clear glass 
plates, they make the passer shiver; their poor, lean, 
individualized bodies are pitifully real. And to make 
the matter worse, they are always smiling smiling 


Paris As It Is 

that fixed, painful smile of hilarious statues. The smile 
in marble was Carpeaux's specialty. Those who have 
seen it have not forgotten the magnificent tipsy laugh 
of the figures in the dancing group on the front of the 
Opera ; you seem to hear it, as you pass, above the up- 
roar of the street. 

I may allude, while speaking of such matters, to a 
species of exhibition which has just taken place at the 
Odeon Theater 8 "Vkonnete et mcuwssade Odeon" 
the respectable and dingy playhouse of the Latin quar- 
ter. The dinginess of the Odeon has passed away; the 
theater has been closed all the autumn for repairs and 
embellishments. The other day it opened for the winter, 
and the embellishments were found to include a foyer, 
decorated with histrionic portraits and literary busts. 
Several of these works are by distinguished hands, and 
the theater for the last fortnight has been drawing 
crowds for the sake of its entr'actes. There is of course 
nothing so fine as Houdon's magnificent statue of Vol- 
taire, 4 which thrones in the foyer of the Theatre Fran- 
fais; but there are three or four interesting pieces. 
Among the paintings there is a very fine portrait of 
Geffroy, as Don Sallust, in Victor Hugo's Ruy Bias, 
by Carolus-Duran, the author of that admirably rich 
and simple portrait of the lady drawing off her glove, 
which has lately been placed in the gallery of the Lux- 
embourg. Carolus-Duran is of all the modern emulators 
of Velasquez decidedly the most successful. His analogy 
with the great Spaniard his blacks and grays, and 
gravity of tone seems not, as they say of tomatoes, an 


Parisian Sketches 

"acquired taste," but a natural sympathy. Among the 
busts there is a very fine Victor Hugo, by Schonewerk 
a trifle too sombre et fated but bringing out strongly 
the extremely handsome character of his head. Then 
there is an Alexandre Dumas the elder, by Chapu, 
which is simply superb. It breathes and speaks. That 
monstrous mixture of the Parisian and the African 
which characterized his face is most vividly rendered. 
It is a pity such a bust should have a name ; it ought 
to stand there always, as a symbolic image of clever 
impudence. The head of Madame Sand, by Carrier, is 
less successful. She is muffled in a Spanish mantilla, of 
which the lace is very elaborately wrought; but the 
meager, imposing little visage surely does not belong 
to the very positive author of L&lia and Consti^elo. 

Mademoiselle Dejazet 5 has just died, and 150,000 
people have followed her to the grave. She was seventy- 
eight years of age, and she had acted almost uninter- 
ruptedly from her fifth to her seventy-seventh year. It 
was in its way a stupendous career. When she was a 
child she played the parts of old women, and as a sep- 
tuagenarian she represented giddy lads and lasses. She 
has had the funeral of a crowned head ; there could not 
be a better example of the ingrained Parisian passion 
for all things theatrical than this enormous manifesta- 
tion of homage to the memory of a little old lady who 
was solely remarkable for the assurance with which she 
wore trousers and sang free-and-easy songs. 

December 25, 1875 


Letter 'from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, Dec. 16. There is only one thing talked 
about just now in Paris the election of the 75 per- 
manent senators. 1 The elective process has been going 
on for upward of a week, and turning out an average 
of 10 names a day; a day or two more will complete 
the list. In the evening, on the boulevards, at the 
theaters, in the cafes, the Soir, the paper which comes 
out at nine o'clock, is pounced upon with extraordinary 
avidity. You will some time since have received full 
news of the reiterated, and in its effect really very dra- 
matic, victory of the Left, and I have moreover no 
warrant to examine the political aspect of the question. 
But such questions have in Europe, more than with us, 
a picturesque aspect as well, and of this latter, in the 
present case, I had a glimpse the other day, which I 

Parisian Sketches 

found sufficiently entertaining. It was the first day of 
the voting for the senators at the Assembly ; and I re- 
paired to Versailles, invoking as discreetly as a for- 
eigner may in such a matter, good fortune upon the 
Republican councils. It is very possible that the pro- 
ceedings in the Assembly might not have been found 
especially striking by an observer who insists always 
on very novel and acute sensations ; but certainly, tak- 
ing one thing with another, I deemed my afternoon de- 
cidedly remunerative. There is entertainment enough, 
of a mild, misty winter day, in strolling about that 
stately solitude of Versailles. Now that the French 
legislative body is permanently established there the 
new Senate Chamber has just been constructed, with 
extraordinary celerity the melancholy of the place is 
a little less intolerable than formerly, and you may go 
and enjoy its fine historic flavor with comfortable 
equanimity. I have just been reading the first install- 
ment of the new work by M. Tame, 2 lately so attentively 
expected Les Origincs de la France Contemporaine 
in which he sets forth with his usual vividness and vigor 
the prodigious wastefulness of the manners and customs 
introduced by Louis XIV. His pompous architecture 
swallowed up millions of treasure, but in view of the 
excellent use to which it is now being put we may al- 
most absolve him. Versailles seems to have been made 
on purpose to offer a haven of security to a Parliament 
situated as the French Assembly is a Parliament for 
which the "emotional" character of the population ren- 
ders the national capital an unsafe abode. Its stillness 

24 ' 

Versailles As It Is 

and spaciousness, its air of decency and dignity, all 
seem a guarantee of undisturbed deliberations. It had 
never appeared to me before to have so much of this 
drowsy majesty. I had always been there in summer, 
when the fountains were playing, the avenues green, 
and the long polished floors of the gilded halls dotted 
with Paris holiday-takers or American tourists look- 
ing like flies on horizontal mirrors. But all deserted 
palaces and gardens should be seen in the chill and 
leafless season. Then nature seems to give them up to 
your sympathy and they appear to take you into their 
confidence. I abridged my attendance in that musty 
little red and gold playhouse in which the Assembly 
sits, for the sake of wandering about the terraces and 
avenues of the park. The day had that soft, humid 
mildness of which, in spite of the inveteracy with which 
you are assured here that every biting blast is "excep- 
tional," and which consequently piles up your accu- 
mulated conviction that it is the rule is really the 
keynote, the fonds, as they say, of the Paris winter 
weather. The long, misty alleys and vistas were cov- 
ered with a sort of brown and violet bloom which a 
painter would have loved to reproduce, but which a 
poor proser can only think of and sigh. As it melts 
away in the fringe of the gray treetops, or deepens in 
the recesses of the narrowing avenues, it is the most 
charming thing in the world. All the old Hebes and 
Floras and Neptunes there are more to a square rod 
at Versailles than in any old garden I know, and I know, 
thank heaven, a great many were exposing their sal- 

- eg 

Parisian Sketches 

low nudities as if in compliment to the clemency of the 
weather. There is nowhere else, surely, such a redun- 
dancy of more or less chiseled marble ; it is a forest of 
statues, as well as of trees. My only complaint against 
this moldy mythology, however, is that it is kept in a 
trifle too good repair; like everything else in France, 
it is carefully administr. There are none of those ab- 
sent arms and diminished bosoms which are so abun- 
dant in Italy, and which seem to place one in communi- 
cation with those departed generations in recovery of 
whose familiar caresses one may fancy them to have 
crumbled away. On one of the great shallow basins of 
the fountains a handful of people were trying to skate 
on some very sloppy ice; everyone, I noticed, was in 
the primary stages of skill. If there is any amusement, 
however abortive, to be picked up here, it is wonderful 
how many persons seem to have been eagerly waiting 
for it. I was surprised, nevertheless, at the skaters at 
Versailles floundering about so gracefully. To learn to 
skate requires, of all things, continuity of practice, and 
that must be rare where the winter is, according to an 
excellent expression, not "frank." In some of the great 
avenues, where the clumsy old coaches of the Bourbons 
used to roll, the little red-legged soldiers of the present 
Republic were learning their manual. Their corporals 
were at them, and smiting their muskets into the 
proper attitudes; but in spite of all the ugly things 
that lie behind it, the spectacle looked cheerful enough 
in the watery sunshine. Here and there, in open places, 
a couple of panting conscripts were learning to do the 

Versailles As It Is 

bugle call. The bugleman was inarching them off their 
legs and giving them "patterns" to copy by, like the 
flourishes of a writing master. The poor fellows were 
stumping along under his nose, purple in the face with 
their exertions, and their repetition of the airs he had 
given had, indeed, as many square corners as a school- 
boy's flourishes. But in the soft, impartial echo that 
melted away through the park, it seemed to me that 
their notes sounded as well as his own. 

One regards the present Assembly with an increase of 
interest now that it is about to become historical. As I 
looked down upon the 500 not particularly handsome 
or individually impressive gentlemen who were chat- 
ting and edging their way about in the pit of the little 
rococo theater, it was impossible not to philosophize a 
trifle. A great many foolish things have been said there, 
but one excellent thing has been done. The Republic 
has been kept along; the silver cord has not been al- 
lowed altogether to loose. By hook and by crook, 
through thick and thin, by something that seemed at 
times like a clumsy accident, the Republic has been 
weaned from babyhood and set on its feet. There are 
plenty of people who promise you it can't walk alone 
that it will tumble over and crack its pate. But these 
are no true friends of the family. The wisest of the 
doctors and nurses declare that if it is given a chance 
it will toddle ; and now, fortunately, every year its legs 
are growing longer. In the very place where the mon- 
archs of the last century, as they looked about them at 
a court that ventured to laugh at honest Moli&re only 

Parisian Sketches 

when they had given the permissive smile, must have 
felt peculiarly and transcendently monarchical be- 
neath that great gilded angel above the proscenium, 
straddling upon her wrinkled silver cloud and clasp- 
ing the lilied shield of the Bourbons under these in- 
congruous circumstances the work has been done. The 
Assembly has been accused of dragging on its existence 
longer than was needful for selfish ends, but among 
these personal joys that of sitting in the Versailles 
Theater (I allude to the simple physical act) cannot 
be counted. Never were Deputies more uncomfortable. 
Seven hundred men are packed into a space none too 
large to accommodate 300; their benches are hardly 
more ample than the top rail of a fence, and their desks 
are about the capacity of the book rack in a church pew. 
As the most significant doings are generally the sim- 
plest, there is nothing in what I saw in the Assembly 
that especially invites narration. Seven hundred gen- 
tlemen filed slowly before the tribune and dropped a 
ballot into an urn. It was a good chance to make a 
study of the multitudinous types of the French physi- 
ognomy, and I endeavored to profit by my opportunity, 
but one's shorthand notes on such an occasion are 
rather hard to transcribe. 

I just now mentioned M, Taine's new book, which is 
the literary event of the day, and is very well worth 
speaking of. The history of the French Revolution, 
upon which he has so long been engaged, proves to be a 
work of the somewhat larger scope, which the title I 
quoted above would indicate. The first volume, a stout 

Versailles As It Is 

octavo of 550 pages, came out two or three days since; 
it is devoted to the "Ancien Regime." M. Taine has 
been so much translated that he has now, to English 
eyes, a tolerably distinct physiognomy. With the ex- 
ception of M. Renan, he is now the most brilliant 
French writer, albeit that he is not in the Academy. 
But in truth, with his extraordinary store of general 
knowledge and his magnificent skill in that office, which 
is considered the peculiar function of academies 
presentation, exhibition, harmonious arrangement M. 
Taine is an academy in himself. He is very far from 
infallible, and so are academies ; but like them, right or 
wrong, he always speaks with a certain accumulated au- 
thority. I speak of him advisedly as a "writer," for 
although he is also a logician, a metaphysician, a 
thinker, and a scholar, it is the literary quality of his 
genius that I most highly relish. I suspect, moreover, 
that it is the side that he most relishes himself, and 
that, on the whole, it is the most valuable side. Some of 
his theories have been severely riddled by criticism, but 
at the worst he is capital reading. His style in his pres- 
ent work flows in as ample a current as ever ; one sees 
that it has been fed from many sources. His theories 
here, moreover, are not obtrusive. His work has been 
chiefly one of narration and exposition. He has given 
a complete picture of the structure and condition of 
the French society that preceded the Revolution its 
organization, its habits, its occupations, its public and 
private economy, its diet, its costume, its temper, its 
ideas, its ways of feeling. The picture is extraordinarily 

29 * 

Parisian Sketches 

complete, and is executed with that sustained vigor of 
which M. Taine only is capable. The eighteenth cen- 
tury in French literature has been turned inside out, 
sifted and resif ted, explored in its minutest detail ; but 
the thing has never been done with the method and 
energy of M. Taine; there is no other such rich and 
vivid resume. He has disinterred new facts, possessed 
himself of new documents, illuminated a variety of 
points with a stronger light, and made a most interest- 
ing book. It is amazing how well we have come to know 
the eighteenth century ; there was never such a labor of 
revivification. The defunct is standing upon his feet 
again ; he wears his clothes as he used to put them on 
himself, and his wig as his valet used to powder it ; he 
has the cares of life in his cheeks and the look of sym- 
pathy in his eyes ; not a wrinkle on his brow, not a de- 
tail of his costume is wanting ; he can almost speak, or 
if he cannot speak he easily can listen. If he listens to 
M. Taine he will hear some painful truths. M. Taine 
is supposed to intend to take a reactionary view of the 
French Revolution, and to devote himself chiefly to 
that somewhat neglected province of history, the injury 
it did to France. It is high time, certainly, that this 
work were done, from the liberal and philosophical 
standpoint. In this volume, however, the author is by 
no means reactionary ; a more damning indictment than 
his picture of the social orders that the Revolution 
swept away cannot be imagined* The criticism of what 
it in turn established will come later. The book is a 
curious mine of facts about the old royal and aristo- 

30 - 

Versailles As It Is 

cratic habits about the expenditure of the court and 
of those who frequented it. I had marked a great many 
passages for quotation. Page after page is filled with 
accounts of the sinecures under Louis XIV and Louis 
XV. Gentlemen and ladies drew ten and twenty thou- 
sand francs a year for performing functions which had 
not even a name, and others for performing func- 
tions which had names which we do not pronounce 
in English (they do in French), though the functions 
themselves were strictly nominal. The analysis of the 
temper and intellectual condition of society is as com- 
plete as might have been expected from so keen a psy- 
chologist as M. Taine. This is accompanied by a great 
many characteristic anecdotes. Louis XIV loved to 
centralize ; he wished the whole aristocracy to be per- 
petually at court, paying him its respects. He was 
therefore much gratified, I suppose, when a certain 
M. de Vardes (the name deserves to be preserved) re- 
marked to him that, "When one is away from your 
Majesty, one is not only unhappy; one is ridiculous." 
One might be ridiculous, it appears, even within speak- 
ing distance of his Majesty. M. Taine speaks of course 
of the reign of "sensibility" which set in about the 
middle of the last century and continued during the 
Revolution, without the least detriment to that of Ter- 
ror. It produced a great deal of vaporous sentimental- 
ity, but it sometimes gave a very delicate point to the 
feelings. "We meet thus," says our author, "with ac- 
tions and expressions of a supreme grace, unique of 
their kind, like some tiny little masterpiece in Sevres 

Parisian Sketches 

china." One day when the Countess Am61ie de Bouffiers 
was speaking rather lightly of her husband, her mother- 
in-law said, "You forget that you are speaking of my 
son." "It is true," she answered, "I thought I was speak- 
ing only of your son-in-law." The virtuous and temper- 
ate Madame Elizabeth had sixty thousand dollars al- 
lowed her annually for her food. There was doubtless 
a good deal of reason in Talleyrand's saying that "He 
who had not lived before 1789 did not know the sweet- 
ness of living." There was another point of view, how- 
ever: the last division of M. Taine's volume, and the 
most interesting, is on the people. But the whole book is 
to be read. 

January 8, 1876 



Letter from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, Dec. 28. There has been much notice taken 
during the last fortnight of a new picture by Meis- 
sonier, which has been on exhibition first at the rooms 
of an eminent dealer, and then at the Club des Mir- 
litons. Any new work by M. Meissonier 1 is of course 
noticeable, but the present one has a special claim to 
distinction in the fact that it is the largest picture 
that has ever proceeded from the hand of that prince 
of miniaturists. Besides, as the future possessors of 
it, you should know something about it. The pic- 
ture has been bought by Mr. A. T. Stewart 2 of 
New York for the prodigious sum, as I see it af- 
firmed, of 380,000 francs. The thing is exceedingly 
clever, but it strikes me as the dearest piece of goods I 
have ever had the honor of contemplating. It has, I be- 


Parisian SketcJies 

lieve, what they call in France its "legend" that little 
nebulous body of anecdote which hovers, like the tail of 
a comet, in the rear of every nine days' wonder. The 
picture was seen in an embryonic condition by Sir 
Richard Wallace, 8 and purchased in anticipation for 
200,000 francs one half of which was deposited as a 
pledge in the hands of the dealer. But time elapsed, 
and Sir Richard Wallace thought better of his bar- 
gain; he took hack his offer and his $20,000. Mean- 
while the picture was completed, and the price also. It 
was offered to Mr. Stewart for $60,000. He accepted, 
but this was not all. The dealer bethought himself 
that this small parallelogram of canvas would pay 
a duty of $8,000 at the New York Custom House, 
and he accordingly annexed this trifle to the bill of 
sale. Then it appeared that M. Meissonier desired to 
retain the right to exhibit the picture in the Salon 
of next year, and that the cost of bringing it back 
across the seas for this purpose would be a matter 
of $8,000 more. Why it should cost so much to trans- 
port a deal box containing a light canvas from New 
York to Paris is not immediately apparent. It occupies 
less space than the most emaciated human being, and it 
eats nothing. But the fare of the picture was super- 
added to the amount already mentioned, and the Amer- 
ican purchaser laid down without flinching always ac- 
cording to the "legend" the round sum of 380,000 
francs. The picture represents an immense amount of 
labor, and of acquired science and skill, and one takes, 
moreover, an acute satisfaction in seeing America stretch 

Parisian Sketches 

out her long arm and rake in, across the green cloth 
of the wide Atlantic, the highest prizes of the game of 
civilization. And yet, in spite of these reflections, M. 
Meissonier's little picture seemed to me dear, as I have 
said, at $76,000. It must be added, however, that in 
dealing with so high a talent as Meissonier's, it is very 
hard to fix the line of division between the fair value 
and the factitious value. The ability is so extreme, so 
consummate, so defiant of analysis, that it carries off 
with an irresistible assurance any claims it may choose 
to make. To paint so well as that, you say as you stand 
and look, must be so difficult, must be impossible to 
anyone but Meissonier; and if Meissonier is unique, 
why should he not command the prices of unique 
things? If there were only one sewing machine in the 
world, for instance, who can say what might be the 
pecuniary conditions annexed to its changing hands? 
And then I humbly confess that if a certain number of 
persons have been found to agree that such and such 
an enormous sum is a proper valuation of a picture, a 
book, or a song at a concert, it is very hard not to be 
rather touched with awe and to see a certain golden 
refl#t in the performance. Indeed, if you do not see it, 
the object in question becomes perhaps still more im- 
pressive a something too elevated and exquisite for 
your dull comprehension. M. Meissonier's picture rep- 
resents one of those Napoleonic episodes which he has so- 
often treated, and of which he has so completely mas- 
tered the costume and the historical expression ; he en- 
titles it simply "1807." The work is a yard and a half 


Parisian Sketches 

long and I suppose about three quarters of a yard high. 
It is probable that the painter considers it his greatest 
achievement, for he has evidently spent a world of care 
and research upon it. The critics in general, appar- 
ently, are not of this mind; most of them are of the 
opinion that the success, on the whole, is not propor- 
tionate to the attempt. The artist, I imagine, has de- 
sired not so much to represent a particular battle as to 
give a superb pictorial expression of the glory of Na- 
poleon at its climax. It was about in 1807 that it 
reached its zenith; then there were no clouds nor 
intermissions nor lapses. The battle of Eylau was 
fought in 1807, but it took place, if I remember 
rightly, in the winter, and the ground, in M. Meis- 
sonier's picture, is covered with the deep verdure of 
June. 4 At any rate Napoleon stands on a mound in 
the middle distance, beyond which, beneath a bril- 
liant, lightly dappled sky, a mighty battle is going 
on. Around him are his marshals and his aids, em- 
broidered on all their seams, as the phrase is, choking 
in their stocks and glittering with their orders. The 
Emperor strides his white horse, and sits like a Caesar 
on a monument, to return the salute of the troops that 
are sweeping past him. M. Meissonier paints him at the 
moment when he was probably handsomest, the mid- 
season between the meagerness of his earlier years and 
the livid corpulence of his later ones. He looks in this 
portrait, small as it is, prodigiously like a man to be- 
lieve in. The foreground of the picture, to the right, is 
occupied by a troop of cuirassiers, who are galloping 

Parisian Sketches 

into action ; they are the morituri who salute the Caesar 
Imperator, and they form the real subject of the work. 
They are magnificently painted, and full, I will not say 
of movement Meissonier, to my sense, never represents 
it but of force and completeness of detail. This colo- 
nel is exactly passing the spectators, to whom, as he 
twists himself in his saddle to lift his saber and bellow 
forth his "Vive VEmpereur!" he turns his back. His 
pose, with its stiffened elongated leg, its contortion in 
the saddle, its harmony with the thundering gallop of 
the horse, is admirably rendered. Behind him come 
plunging and rattling the others, with their long swords 
flashing white in the blue air, their heads thrown back 
and turned to the Emperor, their mouths wide open, 
their acclamations almost audible, their equipments 
flapping and jingling, and their horses straining and 
clattering in a common impetus. They are trampling 
through the high, poppy-strewn grass, where the 
crushed flowers seem already like the spatter of blood. 
To the left there is a slight interval, filled, in the dis- 
tance, with the gleam of maneuvering squadrons, be- 
yond which comes riding forward a group of gorgeous 
hussars. It bothered the spectators a little that they 
should look as if they might come into collision, diag- 
onally, with the cuirassiers. They are riding slowly, 
however, and they may sit under their great furred bon- 
nets and watch the charge. All this goes on in a glare 
of sunshine ; there are no clouds, no shadows ; nothing 
but high lights and unrelieved colors. This sustained 
unity of light, as it were, is, I take it, a great achieve- 


Parisian Sketches 

ment, and must have won much applause from people 
who have attempted similar feats. The picture has ex- 
traordinary merits, but I have seen works of a slighter 
ability that have pleased me more. 

It is hard, however, to admire it restrictively without 
seeming to admire it less than one really does. It seems 
to me it is a thing of parts rather than an interesting 
whole. The parts are admirable, and the more you ana- 
lyze them the better they seem. The best thing, say, is 
a certain cuirassier, and in the cuirassier the best thing 
is his clothes, and in his clothes the best thing is his 
leather straps, and in his leather straps the best thing 
is the buckles. This is the kind of work you find your- 
self performing over the picture ; you may go on indefi- 
nitely. The great general impression which, first and 
foremost, it is the duty of an excellent picture to give 
you, seems to me to be wanting here. M. Meissonier is 
the great archaeologist of the Napoleonic era ; he un- 
derstands to a buttonhole the uniform of the Grand 
Army. He is equally familiar with the facial types, and 
he renders marvelously the bronzed and battered physi- 
ognomies that scowl from the deep shadow of shakos 
and helmets. Each man is perfect, but when M. Meis- 
sonier has made him an elaborate, accomplished his- 
torical image he has done his utmost. He feels under 
no necessity to do anything with him, to place him in 
any complex relation with anything else, to make any 
really imaginative uses of him. This suggests to the 
observer a want of something which he thinks it a great 
pity a painter of M. Meissonier's powers should not 


Parisian Sketches 

possess a want intellectual, moral, spiritual ; I hardly 
know what to call it. He resents the attempt to interest 
him so closely in costume and type, and he privately 
clamors for an idea. It is this "idea" that is somehow 
conspicuous by its absence in M. Meissonier's pictures ; 
and yet in so eminent a painter you cannot help looking- 
for it. But, to my sense, they are dry and cold. Look 
at them beside a Gerome, indeed, and they seem to 
bloom and teem with high suggestions; but look at 
them beside a Delacroix or a Millet and they appear 
only brilliantly superficial. It is a difference like the 
difference to the eye between plate glass and gushing 

But why should I talk of pictures when Paris itself, 
for the last few days, has formed an immense and bril- 
liant picture. French babies, I believe, hang up their 
stocking or put a shoe into the stove on New Year's 
Eve ; but Christmas, nevertheless, has been very good- 
humoredly kept. I have never seen Paris so charming 
as on this last Christmas Day. The weather put in a 
claim to a share in the fun, the sky was radiant and the 
air as soft and pure as a southern spring. It was a day 
to spend in the streets and all the world did so. I passed 
it strolling half over the city and wherever I turned I 
found the entertainment that a pedestrian relishes. 
What people love Paris for became almost absurdly 
obvious: charm, beguilement, diversion were stamped 
upon everything. I confess that, privately, I kept 
thinking of Prince Bismarck and wishing he might 
take a turn upon the boulevards. Not that they would 

Parisian Sketches 

have flustered him much, I suppose, for, after all, the 
boulevards are not human; but the whole spectacle 
seemed a supreme reminder of the fact so constantly 
present at this time to the reflective mind the amazing 
elasticity of France. Beaten and humiliated on a scale 
without precedent, despoiled, dishonored, bled to death 
financially all this but yesterday Paris is today in 
outward aspect as radiant, as prosperous, as instinct 
with her own peculiar genius as if her sky had never 
known a cloud. The friendly stranger cannot refuse an 
admiring glance to this mystery of wealth and thrift 
and energy and good spirits. I don't know how Berlin 
looked on Christmas Day, though Christmas-keeping 
is a German specialty, but I greatly doubt whether its 
aspect would have appealed so irresistibly to the sym- 
pathies of the impartial observer. With the approach 
of Christmas here the whole line of the boulevards is 
bordered on each side with a row of little booths for 
the sale for the sale of everything conceivable. The 
width of the classic asphalt is so ample that they form 
no serious obstruction, and the scene, in the evening 
especially, presents a picturesque combination of the 
rustic fair and the highest Parisian civilization. You 
may buy anything in the line of trifles in the world, 
from a cotton nightcap to an orange neatly pricked in 
blue letters with the name of the young lady Adle 
or Ernestine to whom you may gallantly desire to 
present it. On the other side of the crowded channel the 
regular shops present their glittering portals, deco- 
rated for the occasion with the latest refinements of the 


Parisian Sketches 

trade. The confectioners in particular are amazing ; the 
rows of marvelous bonbonnieres look like precious six- 
teenth-century caskets and reliquaries, chiseled by 
Florentine artists, in the glass cases of great museums. 
The boribonniere, in its elaborate and impertinent use- 
lessness, is certainly the consummate flower of material 
luxury; it seems to bloom, with its petals of satin and 
its pistils of gold, upon the very apex of the tree of 

I walked over to Notre Dame along the quays, and 
was more than ever struck with the brilliant pictur- 
esqueness of Paris as, from any point opposite to the 
Louvre, you look up and down the Seine. The huge 
towers of Notre Dame, rising with their blue-gray tone 
from the midst of the great mass round which the river 
divides, the great Arc de Triomphe answering them 
with equal majesty in the opposite distance, the splen- 
did continuous line of the Louvre between, and over 
it all the charming coloring of Paris on certain days 
the brightness, the pearly grays, the flicker of light, 
the good taste, as it were, of the atmosphere all this 
is an entertainment which even custom does not stale. 
In the midst of it the good people were trudging in 
thousands, on their various festive errands, well dressed 
and well disposed. Every tenth man one sees in the 
streets at present is a soldier, and though this fact has 
doubtless a melancholy meaning in the moral scale, it 
has a high value in the picturesque. The cuirassiers es- 
pecially are numerous, and their glittering helmets 
light up the crowd. The mass of buildings in front of 

Parisian Sketches 

Notre Dame has been removed within the last couple 
of years, and the open space across which you approach 
the church is of immense extent. It is quite the ideal 
"chance" for a great cathedral. Notre Dame profits 
by it, and her noble fa9ade looks more impressive than 
ever. I went in and listened to vespers, and watched the 
sounding nave grow dusky and the yellow light turn 
pale on the eastern clerestory, and then I wandered 
away and crossed the river farther, and climbed that 
imperceptible eminence known as the "mountain" of 
St. Genevieve, and bent my steps to the curious Church 
of St. fitienne du Mont the church that hides its 
florid little Renaissance fa9ade behind the huge neo- 
classic drum of the Pantheon. Here I was only in time 
for the sermon, but, with all respect to French pulpit 
eloquence, which often has a most persuasive grace, it 
was time enough. I turned, before long, a deaf ear to 
the categories of virtue and vice it was like the dread- 
ful nomenclature of chemistry and wandered apart 
to the shrine of St. Genevieve. The bones of this holy 
woman repose in a great brazen tomb in one of the 
chapels, surrounded with votive tapers. The scene was 
very picturesque. A number of women were on their 
knees around it, in the illumined dusk, presenting vari- 
ous objects to be blessed. A young priest opened a sort 
of circular lid in the sepulcher, held the object down 
into the hole, murmured something over it, and re- 
stored it. Some of the articles exposed to the influence 
of the beatific ashes were singularly prosaic. One, for 
instance, was a clean shirt, rigidly plaited and starched. 

Parisian Sketches 

The motive of this application puzzled me; was the 
applicant a laundress? She was probably the pious 
relative of a sick man who was contemplating a change 
of linen. In either case, I seemed to have walked far 
away from the boulevards, and from the Christmas Day 
of 1875. 

January 22, 1876 




Letter -from Henry James, Jr. 





PARIS, Jan. 7. That the theater plays in Paris a 
larger part in people's lives than it does anywhere else 
is by this time a fact too well established to need es- 
pecial comment. It is one of the first facts that comes 
under the observation of the resident foreigner, who 
very soon perceives that the theater is an essential part 
of French civilization, in regard to which it keeps up 
a lively process of action and reaction. It is not a mere 
amusement, as it is in other countries ; it is an interest, 
an institution, connected through a dozen open doors 
with literature, art, and society. There are, of course, 
plenty of people who assure you that the French stage 
of today is nothing but a name ; that its great days are 
over, and that to know the perfection of acting one 
should have been born seventy years ago. Born, unfor- 
tunately, more recently, I have seen neither Talma, nor 

The Parisian Stage 

Mile. Mars, nor Mile. Georges, nor Madame Dorval, 
nor Rachel, nor Frederic Lemaitre, and in such a case, 
though it is disagreeable to have to assent to invidious 
reflections, it is difficult to gainsay them. 1 But even 
without this questionable privilege of depressing com- 
parison, I must add that I find it easy to imagine the 
French stage being better than it is. I remember 
vaguely Rose Cheri, and distinctly Mile. Desclee. 2 The 
best acting in Paris is extremely good, at the present 
time, but the second best is not so much better than it 
is elsewhere, as it is sometimes assumed to be. I take 
it that the sign of a highly flourishing state of dramatic 
art is excellence in secondary positions finish in out- 
of-the-way places. This is what Mr. Ruskin praises in 
the art of the greatest architecture, and the analogy 
may be carried into the labors of the actor. Is it true, 
then, that the golden days of the French stage are 
over? I shall not pretend to say, but I think that a 
critic of greater courage might find some support for 
an affirmative answer. He might, indeed, while he was 
about it, go on to argue that the happy time of the 
acted drama has passed away the world over. He might, 
if he were philosophically inclined, remark that the 
dramatic art requires, both in performers and specta- 
tors, a certain simplicity, a naivete, an abeyance of the 
critical spirit which are rapidly passing out of human 
life. To produce very good acting there should be a 
class of performers and a public in whom subtlety has 
not attained its maximum. If evidence in favor of this 
assertion were needed, I should venture to point to 


Parisian Sketches 

two striking cases of essentially modern acting which 
I have lately witnessed as samples of the harm that can 
be done by the absence of what I have called na*ivet6. 
One is the Macbeth of Mr. Henry Irving, which I lately 
saw in London; the other is the Macbeth of Signor 
Ernesto Rossi, which I saw the other night here. I do 
not know how Garrick or Charles Kemble or Edmund 
Kean 8 played the part, or how Talma would have 
played it if he had been allowed : but as I watched the 
English and the Italian tragedian I murmured within 
myself, "Oh, for one touch of Kemble or of Talma!" 
one touch of good faith, of the ideal, the simple. But 
Irving and Rossi are very clever actors, and these re- 
marks have perhaps an air of aberration. So far as 
such matters in Paris are concerned, it may be enough 
to allude, in confirmation of a gloomy view of the fu- 
ture of the stage, to the inordinate prosperity, of late 
years, of opSra bouffe. This phenomenon, I should say, 
could only have been possible in a community which 
had ceased to take the theater with that degree of seri- 
ousness which is necessary for its perfect good health. 
A person fond of the stage and indifferent to op&ra 
bouffe has not just now a very comfortable time of it. 
At least a third of the theaters are given over to the 
strains of Offenbach, of Lecocq, and of Herv6, 4 and the 
photographs of the actresses who impart to these melo- 
dies the requisite complement of grimace and gesture, 
simper at you from fevery second shopwindow. My 
present complaint of the Cruche Cas$6e and the Creole 5 
is not that they are vulgar or trivial or indecent, but 


The Parisian Stage 

simply that they are unhistrionic. They give up the 
stage to something which not only is not acting, but 
is a positive denial of acting. To act is to produce an 
illusion ; to interpret Offenbach is to snap your fingers 
and thrust out your tongue at illusion to try and 
make it appear that a young woman in the audience, 
too frolicsome, really, to be suffered to go at large, has 
scrambled upon the stage and is using the footlights 
in the interest of her sentimental relations with a plu- 
rality of individuals in the house. The favorite actress 
in opera bouffe at the present hour is Mme. Judic,* an 
extremely pretty woman. An inventory of Mme. Judic's 
artistic stock in trade would be really a very curious 
document. After Mme, Judic in popular favor comes 
Celine Chaumont, who is not nearly so pretty, but in- 
finitely cleverer. Mme. Chaumont is indeed so clever, 
and has such genuine dramatic gifts, that it is very 
dismal to see what opera bouffe is making of her. 

The winter season is in full operation at the theaters, 
but I hardly know upon what novelties to confer the 
honor of an especial mention. I have already spoken 
of Rossi, to whom I just now alluded. He pursues his 
triumphant career, and having exhausted the popular- 
ity of Kean, has added Macbeth to his Shakespearean 
performances. 7 His acting in this part, as in every 
other, is at once very fine and very coarse. I should say 
he was poorest in the best places and best in the com- 
paratively unimportant ones. In this he resembles Mr. 
Henry Irving, who is so meager in the essential and 
so redundant in the (relatively) superfluous. Rossi is 


Parisian Sketches 

a superb stage figure, and every now and then he has 
a cry, a movement, a look, which goes straight to the 
mark; but, as a whole, I thought his Macbeth a de- 
cidedly bungling affair. It was ludicrously Italian 
I am sorry to associate so disrespectful an adverb with 
so glorious an adjective. It is true, however, that in 
most cases of an alternation of good taste and bad, the 
genius of modern Italy decides for the bad. The scene 
of Duncan's murder is disfigured by the most absurd 
ventriloquial effects on the part of the shuddering 
Thane, who makes an elaborate attempt to give his 
wife an idea of the way the voices of the sleeping 
grooms sounded. Fancy the distracted chieftain reeling 
out red-handed from his crime and beginning to give 
"imitations." The scene with Banquo's ghost was dis- 
appointing, and the address to the specter singularly 
weak. It is a good indication of Rossi's caliber that he 
depends for his final effect here upon a very puerile 
piece of ingenuity. The scene has been vulgarly acted 
and vulgarly declaimed ; Signor Rossi has been reserv- 
ing himself. And for what? As Macbeth leaves the 
apartment with his wife, after the departure of the 
guests, he stumbles upon his long mantle, trips, falls, 
and rolls over with his heels in the air. His mind is so 
full of supernatural horrors that he thinks the ghost 
of Banquo is still playing him tricks, and he lies crouch- 
ing and quaking, to see what is coming next. It is a 
handsome somersault, certainly, but I do not think it 
can be called acting Shakespeare. The actress who 
plays Lady Macbeth with Signor Rossi has obtained 


The Parisian Stage 

a great success a success which owes nothing to felic- 
ity of costume. I spoke just now of "good faith," and 
of Italian bad taste ; Mme. Pareti-Glech puts these two 
things together and produces a striking result. The 
Italians, after all, if you make them a certain allow- 
ance, have an instinctive sense of the picturesque which 
is beyond our culture. Grant that Lady Macbeth's in- 
fluence over her husband was a purely physical one, 
and this obscure southern artist is superb. You should 
see the gesture with which, in her call upon nature to 
"unsex" herself, she utters the great "Hold, hold!" 
or those with which, to raise Macbeth to his senses be- 
fore the visitors who have been knocking at the gate 
are admitted, she shakes him about and chokes him by 
his coat collar. 

The most successful play of the winter, up to this 
time, has been the Ferreol of Victorien Sardou, and it 
is an agreeable fact that it is also the best. It is con- 
summately clever, in M. Sardou's usual way, and is 
acted at the Gymnase in a manner to throw its clever- 
ness into extraordinary relief. It literally palpitates 
with interest, as the phrase is, and from the first word 
and to the last the spectator is under the charm. The 
charm with M. Sardou is not of a very high quality ; 
he makes a play very much as he would make a pud- 
ding; he has his well-tested recipe and his little stores 
of sugar and spice, from which he extracts with an 
unimpassioned hand exactly the proper quantity of 
each. The pudding is capital, but I can think of no 
writer of equal talent who puts so little of himself into 


Parisian Sketches 

his writing. Search M. Sardou's plays through and you 
will not find a trace of a personal conviction, of a moral 
emotion, of an intellectual temperament, of anything 
that makes the "atmosphere" of a work. They seem to 
have been produced in a sort of mental vacuum. But 
they are not played in a vacuum by any means, and 
Ferreol bids fair to run for a good pax^t of the rest of 
the winter. It has made the reputation, and, theatri- 
cally, the fortune of an admirable young actor named 
Worms. 8 1 don't know when I have seen a piece of act- 
ing that has given me such unmitigated satisfaction as 
M. Worms's representation of the distracted hero of 
this piece. He has seen a man murdered as he himself 
was leaving clandestinely at two o'clock in the morning 
the house of the woman he loves, and his lips are sealed 
by the fact of his position. His best friend is arrested 
on suspicion and condemned by the strongest circum- 
stantial evidence, and yet he cannot make a declaration 
which involves publication of the circumstance that his 
point of view, as a witness, was the garden wall of Mme. 
de Bois-MarteL This lady (who had imprudently per- 
mitted his visit) is in equal distress, and the unhappy 
couple are buffeted to and fro between the sense of their 
duty and of their dangers. I need not say how the 
problem is solved, for sooner or later, I suppose, Per- 
rSol will be "adapted." But in losing M. Worms it will 
lose half its power. This young actor has a gift of quiet 
realism, of mingled vehemence and discretion, of im- 
passioned self-control, which places him at a jump be- 
side Delaunay, 9 the classic jeiwe premier of the Th^&tre 


The Parisian Stage 

Franpais, whom, however, he resembles only in the per- 
fection of his art. The Franpais has promptly marked 
hirn for her own. Under her fostering care he can ripen 
and develop at his ease. 

Actors are just now indeed rather too much at their 
ease at this establishment, which has produced this win- 
ter but a single new piece a little one-act comedy by 
M. Pailleron. 10 When the Theatre Franpais can do 
nothing else, as a critic said the other day, she can 
drape herself in her majesty^-she can draw from her 
immense historical repertory. The drapery is most 
voluminous and becoming, but the terms of the Theatre 
Franpais's magnificent contract with the state are that 
she shall increase her inheritance and think of the fu- 
ture as well as the past. M. Pailleron's comedy. Petite 
Plme by name, has had a moderate success, which it 
owes wholly to the incomparable skill of Mme. Plessy. 11 
There is a double interest in watching Mme. Plessy, as 
with the present winter she is to close her long and 
brilliant career. She has probably never done anything 
more purely brilliant than the part she plays in the 
piece I have just mentioned. The comedy treats of a 
young woman who has eloped from a villa on the 
French Riviera, near the Italian frontier, with a secre- 
tary of legation, and who arrives with her lover in her 
ball dress at a wayside inn, to which the guilty couple 
have been driven by a sudden storm and by a fracture 
of the shafts of their carriage. Here they are overtaken 
by the friend from whose domicile, while paying her a 
visit and dancing at her ball, the fair fugitive has fled 


Parisian Sketches 

a clever woman of the world, who disapproves alto- 
gether of elopements, takes a skeptical view of love, and 
recommends Mme. de Thiais to return to her husband, 
shabby fellow as he is. While the secretary of legation 
is out under the shed, pottering over his broken shaft 
with the drowsy innkeeper, the two ladies have it out 
together. The elder one riddles her friend's illusions 
with her wit, gives her a wholesome fright, and with a 
curtsy to the naughty attach^ takes her off under her 
arm. This scene is acted by Mme. Plessy with a spirit 
and style and grace what the French call an author- 
ity which are certainly the last word of high comedy. 
Mme. Plessy is not (to my thinking) a woman of 
genius ; she is not even a sympathetic actress ; there is 
something always rather hard and metallic in her style. 
But she is so consummate, so accomplished, so perfect 
a mistress of the subtlest resources of her art, that to 
follow her through the light and shade of a long speech 
is not merely an amusement, but a real intellectual 
profit. When I think of all the experience, the observa- 
tion, the reflection, the contact with life and art which 
are summed up in such a mellow maturity of skill, I am 
struck with a kind of veneration. Of the other theaters 
there is nothing very important to narrate. The Revue 
prevails at several of them, notably at the Varit6s, 12 
which is supposed to be its stronghold that dreary, 
flimsy burlesque of the events of the year, which is 
the pretext for so many bad jokes and undressed fi- 
gurantes. The Palais Royal is, as always, exhaustingly 
exhilarating, with Le Panache a long farce in which 


The Parisian Stage 

the element of quiet comedy is thought to be more 
marked than usual. This speaks well for the farces of 
the past. Lastly, the Vaudeville with Les Scandales 
d'Hier, 1 - 4 and a company augmented by Pierre Berton 
from the Fran?ais 5 and Mile. Pierson of the Gymnase 
mysterious fugitives both has been expending some 
very good acting on a very indifferent play. 

January 29, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, Jan. 18. It seems just now, in writing from 
Paris, rather light-minded to speak of anything else 
than the political situation, but if one has a decent pre- 
text for holding one's tongue about French politics, I 
think one is a great fool not to take advantage of it. 
Nothing else, it is true, is talked about. 1 The elections 
are all-pervasive, and no one has attention for anything 
but the crimes, or the virtues (as he may happen to 
consider them), of M. Buffet. 2 There is, of course, an 
infinite amount of more or less ferocious discussion, and 
every man suspects a political adversary in every other. 
When I say that it is a blessing not to be obliged to 
discuss, I mean that if one is disposed that way, one 
may find at every turn the most vivid reminder of the 
vanity of passionate argument. The intensity of politi- 

Parisian Life 

cal discussions is sharper in France than it is anywhere 
else which is the case, indeed, with every sort of dif- 
ference of opinion. There are more camps and coteries 
and "sets" than among Anglo-Saxons, and the gulf 
which divides each group from every other is more 
hopelessly and fatally impassable. 3 Nothing is more 
striking to a foreigner, even after he thinks he has 
grown used to such things, than the definiteness with 
which people here are classed and ticketed. The ticket 
reads so or so, of course, according to your point of 
view ; but to the man who wears another ticket it always 
reads villainously. You ask a writer whose productions 
you admire some questions about any other writer, for 
whose works you have also a relish. "Oh, he is of the 
School of This or That; he is of the queue of So and 
So," he answers. "We think nothing of him: you 
mustn't talk of him here; for us he doesn't exist. 5 ' And 
you turn away, meditative, and perhaps with a little 
private elation at being yourself an unconsolidated 
American and able to enjoy both Mr. A. and Mr. X. 4 
who enjoy each other so little. Of course subsequently 
you do them justice in their mutual aversions, and per- 
ceive that some of the qualities you admire in their 
writings are really owing to their being intrenched be- 
hind their passwords. A little school that dislikes every 
other school, but is extremely active and industrious 
within its own circle, is an excellent engine for the pro- 
duction of limited perfection, and French literature 
abounds in books in which particular tendencies have 
been pushed to lengths which only a sort of artistic 


Parisian Sketches 

conspiracy of many minds could have reached, but 
which seem like mere blind alleys of thought, where ex- 
plorers perish, suffocated for want of having taken 
heed of possible issues to right or left. It is simply the 
old story that, either in politics or in literature, French- 
men are ignorant of the precious art of compromise. 
The imagination sinks helpless before the idea of a 
Monarchist and a Republican ever really coming to 
terms. The Legitimists the other day formed a tempo- 
rary coalition with the Republicans for the sake of 
keeping the Orleanists out of the Senate, but this was 
not because they loved the Republicans more, but be- 
cause they loved the Orleanists less. And yet this sounds 
almost like blasphemy in presence of the fact that the 
Republic is every day making converts from the mo- 
narchical ranks. 

Nothing succeeds like success, and it must seem to 
any sensible Frenchman, who is not a simple partisan, 
that the excellent position of France before the world 
at the present time offers really no decent pretext for 
pretending that the Republic is not sufficient and safe. 
But it is nevertheless true that every convert the pres- 
ent regime makes is a supreme testimony to the force 
of good example and of liberal ideas. This is the more 
true that a deplorable example is being so continually 
offered to recalcitrant patriots by M. Buffet the agi- 
tated minister of a profoundly tranquil country, as Le 
Temps, a day or two ago, very happily called him. To 
an unattached outsider like myself, who has nothing 
but his personal impressions to go by, M. Buffet seems 


Parisian Life 

bent on goading a thoroughly well-disposed and well- 
conducted country to desperation. His theory is that 
however well-conducted France may be, she is so only 
by compulsion and so long as she feels the strong hand, 
and that she is not in the least well disposed. All his 
talk is of "social peril," but no one can in the least 
imagine what he means. To keep the country quiet he 
sticks needles into her, and to set an example of mu- 
tual confidence he shakes his watchman's rattle. M. 
Buffet is a frightened man; he has never recovered 
from the Commune. 5 The Commune was certainly not 
reassuring, but it weighs lightly in the scale compared 
with the general attitude of the country, which con- 
siders that the Republic has established fair ground 
for presumption in its favor, which has a desire for 
rest and peace and work and order at least as lively as 
the Prime Minister's, and which believes that the best 
guarantee of these comforts is a frank acceptance of 
the Republic. It is probable that this will be sufficiently 
manifested in the result of the general elections, which 
began yesterday by the election of delegates by the 
municipal councils. The rural districts are with the 
present occasion to express themselves more directly in 
political affairs than they have ever done before. Mar- 
shal MacMahon 6 has ushered in the campaign with a 
proclamation which is placarded in all the streets, and 
which, though it expresses very correct sentiments, 
strikes me as a rather regrettable performance. A proc- 
lamation of the Chief of the State addressed directly 
to the nation over the heads of the ministry is a step 


Parisian Sketches 

so irregular and abnormal that it should be resorted 
to only in moments of extraordinary public peril. This 
is far from being such a moment, and it is paying no 
compliment to the country at large to assume it to be, 
and to pretend that the nation is in need of this por- 
tentous reminder of the rudimentary duties of patri- 
otism. This is all the proclamation contains, with the 
exception of a more satisfactory passage, which M. 
Buffet probably did not enjoy having to countersign, 
promising that the Marshal will favor no revision of 
the present Constitution until it has been fairly and 
loyally tested which it has not been yet. The procla- 
mation is unfortunate because it interrupts that most 
desirable process, the formation in France of a tradi- 
tion in favor of impersonal government. Such a tradi- 
tion is slowly and laboriously shaping itself, and every 
month that France continues both prosperous and par- 
liamentary will lend it more authority. But I think it 
can be said that the document in question has neither 
unduly discomposed nor unduly comforted the mass of 
good citizens. 

I went too far just now in saying that nothing but 
politics is talked about: everyone finds a word for Les 
Danicheff r and I suppose that I should therefore find 
a word for them too. Les Danicheff is a drama of mys- 
terious origin which has just been brought out with 
extraordinary success at the Odon Theater, and is at- 
tracting all Paris to that remote and unfriended estab- 
lishment. Its origin is as mysterious as anything can 
be with which M. Alexandre Dumas is associated for 


Parisian Life 

the play has been largely retouched and manipulated 
by him. It is the work of a Russian author who calls 
himself on the bills, fictitiously, M. Pierre Newsky, but 
who is otherwise unknown. The story goes that he 
brought his drama a year ago to the author of the 
Demi-Monde to ask his opinion of it, and that Dumas 
replied that the subject was magnificent but the treat- 
ment in a high degree clumsy. Then, by way of point- 
ing out errors, he sat down with his docile petitioner 
and fairly made the play over. Its success is in a great 
measure owing to the more famous author's remarkable 
scenic science which forms a distinct and easily recog- 
nizable ingredient. The smartness is all Dumas' the 
epigrams, the tirades, the aphorisms, by this time 
rather drearily familiar, about the fathomless deprav- 
ity of the female sex. But the theme of the piece is so 
picturesque and effective that it carries Dumas' faults 
hardly less easily than his merits. It has the charm of 
being strange and novel, and not dealing with the ever- 
lasting seventh commandment as interpreted on the 
boulevards. In spite of this, however, the story is easier 
to tell in French than in English. A Russian countess 
of autocratic temper picks out a wife for her only son, 
the ardent and gallant young Vladimir. He declines his 
mother's offer, and intimates that he is in love with a 
young girl, by birth a serf, whom she has educated and 
admitted into her drawing room. Scandalized and hor- 
rified, she attempts to reason away his passion, but he 
is deaf to arguments and threats, and insists upon 
marrying the modest and amiable Anna. The Countess 


Parisian Sketches 

obtains of him that he will at least absent himself for a 
year from home, to test the permanency of his affection 
that he will repair to Moscow, frequent the society of 
his equals, and do his best to fall in love. He departs, 
and as soon as his back is turned she summons Anna 
and marries her, willy-nilly, out of hand, to the coach- 
man. The coachman, a certain Osip, in his black velvet 
knickerbockers and his red silk caftan, is the real hero 
of the piece. The scene of the marriage is very effective, 
and makes a striking picture all the serfs convoked 
and ranged solemnly round, the long-bearded pope, 
the picturesque moujik, with a soul above his station, 
the high-handed old Countess in the middle, flanked by 
her parrot, her lap dog, and her two grotesque and 
servile old lady companions, and the poor young girl, 
vainly entreating and sobbing, in the pitying silence, 
and twisting herself at the feet of her mistress. Her re- 
sistance and her prayers are vain, and, secretly in love 
as she is with Vladimir, she is shuffled into the arms of 
Osip. The coachman is an old-time comrade of the heir 
of the house, who, when they were boys together, had 
treated him almost as an equal, and toward whom he 
has always preserved a devoted loyalty. Vladimir, on 
hearing of Anna's marriage, comes back from Moscow 
like a whirlwind, long before his year is out, and his 
savage irruption, whip in hand, into the cottage of the 
humble couple produces a great effect. This is so well 
rendered by the young actor who plays the part that 
the audience breaks out into long applause before he 
has spoken a word. Then follows a scene between the 


Parisian Life 

two young men which it required some delicacy to han- 
dle. The upshot of it is that Osip, instead of deserving 
his young master's opprobrium for what he has done, 
has earned his gratitude. He has contented himself 
with being Anna's husband but in name he has 
piously abstained from the exercise of marital rights 
he has accepted the young girl (whom, of course, he se- 
cretly adores), only as a sacred deposit. The marriage 
shall be broken and he will hand her over to Vladimir. 
I need not relate the conclusion of the piece, for after 
this exalted flight the most felicitous conclusion must 
be more or less of an anticlimax. The obvious objection 
to the story is that Osip is too ethereal a fellow for a 
Russian coachman : but the authors have made him plau- 
sible, the part is singularly well played, and for myself, 
I do not object to fanciful creation. What I enjoyed in 
Les Danicheff, in spite of the very sensible presence of 
Dumas, is a certain imaginative good faith and naivete 
which offer a grateful change from the familiar gyra- 
tions of that terribly tough and lean old performer, 
I 'esprit parisien. 

I have it on my conscience, while touching on these 
matters, to say another word about Ernesto Rossi, of 
whom I have spoken hitherto with a certain meagerness 
of praise. He has lately appeared as Romeo, 8 and 
though he has attracted less attention in the part than 
in some others, it is the one in which he has given me 
most pleasure. He has scandalously mutilated the play, 
but there is a certain compensation in the fact that what 
he has left of it sounds wonderfully well in Italian. One 


Parisian Sketches 

never sees Shakespeare played without being reminded 
at some new point of his greatness : the other night what 
struck me was the success with which, for the occasion, 
he had Italianized his fancy. The things that trouble 
us nowadays in Romeo and Juliet the redundancy of 
protestation, the importunate conceits, the embarras- 
sing frankness all these fall into their place in the 
rolling Italian diction, and what one seems to see is not 
a translation, but a restitution. It is singular that Rossi 
should play best the part that he looks least, for a 
stout, middle-aged man one would say that Romeo was 
rather a snare. But it is with Romeo very much as with 
Juliet ; by the time an actor has acquired the assurance 
necessary for playing the part, he has lost his youth 
and his slimness. Robust and mature as he is, Rossi 
does it as a consummate artist ; it is impossible to imag- 
ine anything more picturesquely tender, more intensely 
ardent. As I have said, he has done very much what 
he chose with the play, but it is not to be denied that 
in one or two cases he has almost made his modifica- 
tions pardonable. He makes Juliet come to her senses 
in the tomb and discover her inanimate lover before 
Romeo has utterly expired. Besides enabling the hap- 
less couple to perish in each other's arms, this gives 
Rossi an opportunity for a great stroke of dumb show 
the sort of thing in which he decidedly excels. He has 
staggered away from the tomb while the poison, which 
he has just drunk, is working, and stands with his back 
to it as Juliet noiselessly revives and emerges. He re- 
turns to it, finds it empty, looks about him, and sees 


Parisian Life 

Juliet standing a short distance off, and looking in the 
dim vault like a specter. He has been bending over the 
empty tomb, and his eyes fall upon her as he slowly 
rises. His movement of solemn terror as he slowly throws 
up his arms and continues to rise and rise, until, with 
his whole being dilated, he stands staring and appalled, 
on tiptoe, is, although it is grotesque in description, 
very well worth seeing. Rossi's speeches are often weak, 
but when he attempts an acutely studied piece of pan- 
tomime he never misses it. This superiority of his pan- 
tomime to his delivery seems to me to fix him, in spite 
of his great talent, in the second line of actors. 

February 5, 1876 



Letter from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, Jan. 28. The newspapers for the last fort- 
night have contained little else than addresses and pro- 
grams from candidates for the Senate and the Cham- 
bers. One of the most remarkable documents of this 
kind is a sort of pronunciamiento from Victor Hugo, 1 
who is not indeed a possible Senator or Deputy, but 
who has been nominated delegate to the electoral col- 
lege of the Seine for the election of Senators. The elec- 
tion in this department promises to wear a rather 
ruddy hue, and if M. Hugo's utterances have any in- 
fluence upon it, it will certainly be red enough. We shall 
see, however, for it comes off on the thirtieth of the 
month. It seems incredible that Victor Hugo's political 
vaticinations should have a particle of influence upon 
any human creature ; but I have no doubt that they re- 


Parisian Topics 

verberate sonorously enough in some of the obscurer 
couches societies, and there is no reason indeed why the 
same influences which shaped Victor Hugo should not 
have produced a number of other people who are like 
him in everything except in having genius. But in these 
matters his genius does not count, for it is certainly 
absent enough from his address to the "delegates of the 
36,000 communes of France." It might have been be- 
lieved that he had already given the measure of the 
power of the human mind to delude itself with mere 
words and phrases, but his originality in this direction 
is quite unequaled, and perhaps I did wrong to say 
that there was no genius in it. There is, at any rate, a 
genius for pure verbosity. What he has to say to his 
36,000 brother delegates is that "Babylon has the hero- 
ism of Saragossa," that "upon this Paris which merited 
all venerations have been heaped all affronts," that the 
world "has measured the quantity of insult it has 
poured forth to the quantity of respect that was owed." 
It is worth quoting. "What matters, however? In tak- 
ing from her her diadem as capital of France, her ene- 
mies have laid bare her brain as capital of the world. 
This great forehead of Paris is now entirely visible, all 
the more radiant that it is discrowned. Henceforth the 
nations unanimously recognize Paris as the leading 
city of the human race." M. Hugo proceeds to summon 
his electors "to decree the end of abuses by the advent 
of truths, to affirm France before Germanism, Paris be- 
fore Rome, light before night." Whether or not as a 
nation the French are more conceited than their neigh- 


Parisian Sketches 

bors is a question that may be left undecided; a very 
good case on this charge might be made out against 
every nation. But certainly France occasionally pro- 
duces individuals who express the national conceit with 
a transcendent fatuity which is not elsewhere to be 
matched. A foreign resident in the country may speak 
upon this point with feeling; it makes him extremely 
uncomfortable. I don't know how it affects people who 
dislike French things to see their fantastic claims for 
their spiritual mission in the world, but it is extremely 
disagreeable for those who like them. Such persons de- 
sire to enjoy in a tranquil and rational manner the 
various succulent fruits of French civilization, but they 
have no fancy for being committed to perpetual genu- 
flections and prostrations. They read Victor Hugo's 
windy sublimities in the evening paper over their pro- 
fanely well-cooked dinners, and probably on leaving 
the restaurant their course lies along the brilliantly il- 
luminated boulevard. The aspect of the boulevards, of 
a fine, mild evening, is as cheerful as you please, but it 
exhibits a number of features which are not especially 
provocative of "veneration." Perhaps the irritated for- 
eigner we are imagining is going to hear the Timbdle 
d' Argent or the Petite Marine 2 and he asks himself at 
what particular point of these compositions the brain 
of the capital of the world is laid bare. A good 
many other things are laid bare, but brain is not 
among them. Of course Victor Hugo, as a political 
adviser, is taken au serieux by very few people, but 
the fact remains that one is liable to meet him in this 


Parisian Topics 

character in one's evening paper; and it is an amusing 

Victor Hugo's old poetic rival, or rather his brother 
in the Muse, the generous Castor of this impetuous 
Pollux, has also just been having an hour's reappear- 
ance as an "actuality." A very brilliant performance 
was given the other day at the Porte Saint-Martin 
Theater in aid of the fund for erecting a statue to Al- 
phonse de Lamartine. 8 This is always found to be the 
most effective way of raising money in France, and it 
generally produces large sums. People who will not put 
down their names for a franc on a subscription paper 
will joyously pay the requisite fee for the privilege of 
jamming themselves into an ill-placed seat in a crowded 
theater on that least inspiring of occasions, a morning 
performance. The other day the program was attrac- 
tive, as several of Lamartine's most famous poems were 
declaimed and sung by artists of the Theatre Franfais 
and the Opera. It is worth a little discomfort to 
hear some fine verses recited by Delaunay and Mile. 
Favart. 4 There is no better proof, however, that the 
good Homer sometimes nods, than that that somewhat 
lurid star of the same establishment the young tra- 
gedian, M. Mounet-Sully 5 should be allowed in the 
matter of recitation to (in vulgar parlance) "go on" 
as he does. He is a clever actor, but he has no concep- 
tion of the proper way to treat beautiful lyric verse 
to let it speak for itself. His rantings and sputterings 
and contortions are altogether beside the mark, and it 
is hard to understand how, in so august a school, he 

67 * 

Parisian Sketches 

should have been permitted to form such habits. I be- 
lieve he is a very willful young man. The piece de re- 
sistance on the occasion I mention was a conference by 
M. Ernest Legouve, 6 the prince of confer enciers. This 
epithet may be interpreted as a compliment in any de- 
gree the reader chooses. A conference (the reader may 
need to be reminded) is a performance which generally 
takes place in a very uncomfortable little room on the 
Boulevard des Capucines, into which curiosity has oc- 
casionally beguiled my steps. It is both something more 
than a lecture, in our sense of the word, and something 
less more by grace, but decidedly less by exertion. 
The French talk off hand so much more neatly and bril- 
liantly than we who have to buffet the big billows of 
the English tongue can ever hope to do that almost 
any clever man who will mount beside a desk with a 
glass of water beside him is a very sufficient lecturer. 
Perhaps that is the reason why the spectacle of such 
a personage is so far from attracting a crowd. I have 
never been into the room in the Boulevard des Capu- 
cines without finding a motive for odd reflections. An 
American is brought up to the idea that a lecturer is a 
very highly developed personage, and that the profes- 
sion he exercises is one of the most eminent and lucra- 
tive in the world. He has been thankful for standing 
room at the Cooper Institute or the Boston Music 
Hall/ and he has it well in mind that, compared with 
Paris, Boston and New York are generally admitted, 
in the matter of evening amusements, to be steeped in 
barbarism. He is surprised, therefore, to find that the 


Parisian Topics 

only hospitality offered here to this ennobling pastime 
is dispensed in a little dusky, crooked room resembling 
the cellar of a warehouse or a vacated stable, and that 
he sometimes comes very near being the sole auditor. Is 
this the glittering capital of pleasure? he asks; for all 
the appointments are of the most primitive description. 
I must frankly confess, however, that they are gener- 
ally good enough for the conference, which is apt to be 
of a very slender texture. An American lecture is some- 
times "thin" enough, but a conference has an even fur- 
ther degree of transparency. The only gentleman in 
whose honor I have ever seen the little room in the 
Boulevard des Capucines filled is M. Francisque Sar- 
cey, 8 the dramatic critic of the Temps, and one of the 
maitres du genre. M. Sarcey may have begun to pre- 
pare his lecture ten minutes before his arrival, but I 
doubt whether it has taken more of his time. It is gen- 
erally upon some book which has lately appeared, and 
it is often very entertaining. There could hardly be a 
better example of the value of practice and of assur- 
ance. If M. Sarcey can once begin he is safe. He rubs 
his hands, drinks a great many glasses of water, gets 
under way, drifts from one thing to another, and talks 
out his hour. But at the end of it, though I may have 
sat reflecting on the mysterious alchemy of the French 
tongue, agreeably spoken, I have, in retrospect, felt 
just a trifle bamboozled. It is, of course, very true that 
I have not been forced to go there, and it is also to be 
remembered that the sum taken in at the door is of the 
slenderest. As the maidservant said, when, on her hay- 


Parisian Sketches 

ing saved up thirty crowns, she was asked why she mar- 
ried a hunchback, "What sort of a husband can one 
get for thirty crowns? 5 ' 9 

The practice of collecting an artist's works into an 
exhibition after his death is apparently passing from 
the exception into the rule. I think it may be said that 
it is only a rather broad rule that would include the 
productions of poor M. Pils, 10 who died last autumn, 
and whose pictures have lately been gathered into the 
great hall of the ficole des Beaux Arts, the scene of 
the exhibition of the works of Barye, which I mentioned 
the other day. Pils was a military painter of the school, 
generally speaking, of Horace Vernet 11 some of 
whose merits he lacked, however, as well as many of his 
defects. He was neither so good as Vernet at his best, 
nor so bad as Vernet when Vernet was worse than usual. 
His posthumous exhibition, nevertheless, is interesting, 
and the custom, though it is liable to abuse, seems ex- 
cellent. It gives an artist another chance, as it were, 
another bid for fame, after nature has brought down 
the hammer. Pils's life is more interesting perhaps 
than his work, and it has been very sympathetically 
related by M. Becq de Fouquieres. He was an immiti- 
gable invalid, from the cradle, and his career was a 
constant battle with disease. He painted the Crimean 
and the Italian campaigns without being able to follow 
the army, though he spent some time in Algeria pre- 
paring an immense picture of the reception of the na- 
tive chiefs by the Emperor and Empress. This work, 
unfortunately, was a rather melancholy failure and is 


Parisian Topics 

not exhibited ; the Empress, who, I believe, was usually 
very obliging in such matters, never succeeded in find- 
ing an hour to sit for her portrait, though Pils followed 
the court about for weeks, palette in hand, awaiting 
his chance. It must be said, in justice, that his women 
are not very lovely creations. His specialty was the 
French soldier of the Second Empire, the victor of the 
Alma and of Magenta, and him he thoroughly under- 
stood. His great success was a huge representation of 
the battle of the Alma, which now covers one whole side 
of the hall of the ficole des Beaux Arts. Much of this 
gigantic canvas is common and empty, but the soldiers 
are real soldiers the zouaves and chasseurs really 
move, with all the infinite variety of attitude of the 
soldier in action. The idea with Pils, the first sketch, 
and the start, were always excellent ; he broke down in 
the later stages in consequence, often, of the want of 
physical strength. His patience and courage under re- 
iterated interruptions of this kind seem to have been 
inexhaustible, and he appears to have had a large 
measure of that almost touching simplicity of nature 
which is frequent among French artists as in Millet 
and Flandrin. 12 He painted the dome of the staircase 
in the new Opera, and the brush dropped from his hand 
just as he finished his work. He did not live to suffer 
from the silence of the critics about it. Apollo and the 
Muses were not in his line, and his pictures were over- 
shadowed by the brilliant and exquisite compositions 
of M. Baudry in a neighboring part of the building. 
But Pils played his part he erected a monument to 


Parisian Sketches 

the old military glory of France. It was not his fault if 
his pictures had an imponderable influence in precipi- 
tating the country into the miseries of 1870. 1 must add 
a word about a greater name than that of Pils. 

Two very interesting pictures of Eugene Delacroix 1S 
have for some time been visible at Durand-Ruel's. One 
is an immense affair, painted in his early youth a 
Sardanapalus upon his funeral pile: it takes early 
youth to attack such subjects as that. The luxurious 
monarch is reclining upon his cushions on the summit 
of a sort of brazen monument, and his jewels and treas- 
ures and disheveled wives are heaped in confusion about 
him. The subject was not easy, and Delacroix has not 
solved its difficulties ; much of the picture is very bad, 
even for a neophyte. But here and there a passage is 
almost masterly, and the whole picture indicates the 
dawning of a great imagination. One of the women, half 
naked and tumbling over helpless on her face against 
the couch of her lord, with her hands bound behind 
her, and her golden hair shaken out with her lamenta- 
tions, seems, in her young transparent rosiness, like the 
work of a more delicate and more spiritual Rubens. 
The other picture, painted in 1848, an "Entombment 
of Christ," is one of the author's masterpieces, and is 
a work of really inexpressible beauty; Delacroix is 
there at his best, with his singular profundity of imag- 
ination and his extraordinary harmony of color. It is 
the only modern religious picture I have seen that 
seemed to me painted in good faith, and I wish that 
since such things are being done on such a scale it 

- 72 

Parisian Topics 

might be bought in America. It is very dear, but it is 
to be had, considering what it is, for nothing, compared 
with Meissonier's "1807." 


February 19, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 





PARIS, Feb. 11. There is just at present a lull in 
the political storm. The elections for the Senate came 
off on the thirtieth of last month, and those for the As- 
sembly occur on the twentieth of the present one. You 
yourselves learn the facts in these cases a few hours 
later. They were such, in the senatorial elections, as to 
gratify people who feel at liberty to take, on the whole, 
a cheerful view of republican institutions. There were 
more Moderate Republicans elected, fewer Radicals, 
and very much fewer Bonapartists, than had been 
feared. The great news of the day, indeed, was the de- 
feat of the Bonapartists, who muster, at the largest es- 
timate, but forty Senators. The election in Paris was 
of a paler hue than had seemed likely. Victor Hugo 
was successful, but only on a second ballot, and Louis 


Paris in Election Time 

Blanc 1 was beaten. The latter, however, is standing for 
the Assembly, the famous M. Barodet, 2 whose election 
to the Assembly just extinct produced such a scandal, 
having gallantly withdrawn to make room for him. But 
M. Barodet has since begun to oppose another candi- 
date, and a wiser man than himself, in another arron- 
dissement. How the forthcoming elections will turn out 
no man can tell, and I believe the oldest political ob- 
servers decline to risk any prophecies. The results on 
the thirtieth of January were in a measure a surprise 
they gave the Monarchists at once less to exult in and 
less to raise the cry of alarm about than these gentle- 
men had it may be said hoped. It may be that in this 
same direction those of ten days hence will be even 

M. Gambetta 3 has just been making an eloquent 
speech at Lille his age (he is less than forty) having 
excluded him from the senator ship. It is all very rea- 
sonable as well as eloquent, save in so far as it commits 
the liberal program to antagonism to the new Catholic 
University. 4 M. Gambetta denounces in violent terms 
the admission of the Church to a share in the superior 
instruction. 5 This is a point on which many sagacious 
Republicans distinctly differ with him it has brought 
down upon him, for instance, the animadversions of the 
Journal des D6bat$ s which for some time past has been 
treating him with abundant respect. To give the Church 
leave to bring up emigres, as Gambetta says, within the 
state, to form citizens who are no citizens, and with 
whom it is a matter of conscience to plot and conspire 

75 - 

Parisian Sketches 

against it this may be very fairly represented as sui- 
cidal. Certainly there is no such cruel knot for a liberal 
party to have to untie as the question how far it can 
afford to appear intolerant, and the history of Repub- 
licanism in France is associated with so many ugly do- 
ings against the Church, that the question is peculiarly 
difficult here. It should of course be settled in perfect 
indifference to the ironical cries of the Church party 
itself; but though M. Gambetta declares that it is a 
matter with which considerations of liberty and toler- 
ance have nothing to do a matter of simple self-pres- 
ervation it is inevitable that some people should ask 
themselves whether the remedy is not worse than the 
disease. If I were a Frenchman I am inclined to think 
that I should feel more at my ease in a republic in 
which the Catholic party was allowed to carry on, in 
competition with the Sorbonne and the College de 
France, as successful and satisfactory a university as 
it could, than in a republic in which it was silenced and 
muzzled and forced to disseminate its instruction 
through private channels. It is hard, indeed, to imagine 
a Catholic university, with the full light of our cur- 
rent audacity of opinion beating down upon it, proving 
very dangerous. I indulged, however, just above in a 
very fantastic hypothesis. Heaven forbid for simple 
entertainment's sake that anyone who has the good 
fortune not to be a Frenchman should become one, even 
in thought, at the present hour. They are a sadly per- 
plexed people, and I find the spectacle of the various 
conflicting embodiments of opinion which I here and 

- 76 

Paris in Election Time 

there encounter much, more interesting than the mo- 
notonous interest of having a responsible bundle of 
doctrines and sticking to it. Without at all pleading 
guilty to the charge of that exaggeration of versatility 
known as being of the opinion of the last speaker, I 
never hear a political sympathy strongly expressed 
without desiring at least to understand it to get in- 
side of the speaker's mind, circumstances, and ante- 
cedents. The other day a lady was talking to me of a 
gentleman whom she had ceased for some time to see 
he was so violent a Republican. 6 He had none but Re- 
publicans at his house, and they were all horrible peo- 
ple. "No French people," she added in a moment, "are 
Republicans at least no one that anyone sees." This 
seemed to me in its way quite sublime, and it was cer- 
tainly excusable to desire to pass half an hour in a 
place so warm and snug and free from uncomfortable 
drafts as this lady's moral consciousness. An evening or 
two later I was in a room into which M. Buffet pres- 
ently entered, and a lady with whom I was talking 
made me turn and look at him. "I believe," she said 
in a moment, very softly and sweetly, "that M. Buffet 
is the best man on earth." Certainly if you don't dis- 
like the vice-president of the Council very much, you 
will probably love him; but if, as an impartial ob- 
server, you happen to be looking at him in the flesh, 
you will probably feel a certain irritation at hearing 
him spoken of tenderly. Not that he is not very well 
worth turning round to look at, anywhere; but his 
physiognomy expresses the beau ideal of toughness. 


Parisian Sketches 

He looks like a fine sixteenth-century print; his face, 
which is full of dignity and refinement, is, as it were, 
a masterly piece of wood engraving. Beneath the cut, 
on a scroll, in old, quaint letters, ought to be written 
obstinacy. M. Buffet's countenance exhibits this qual- 
ity in truly heroic proportions ; and again, as I say, I 
should have been thankful for a glimpse of the intel- 
lectual economy of my companion, who found it so 
sympathetic. I do not know exactly what to say of a 
gentleman whom I lately encountered, and who, being 
a literary critic of much eminence, had for many years 
delighted me by his writings. On my asking how he felt 
about the elections "Oh, it is done, this time, decid- 
edly, it is done," he answered in the most mournful ac- 
cents. "We are Americanizing ! Yes, it's done." And he 
proceeded to affirm, with an air of dejection so pro- 
found, that the republican form was fatally different 
from those under which France had acquired her great- 
ness, that I had not the heart to remind him of what 
his phrase, under the circumstances, lacked in perfect 
urbanity. I contented myself with suggesting that some 
of the forms under which Prance had grown great 
would make a rather ugly figure today. 

I have just been looking through a new book by M. 
fimile de Girardin, 7 a heavy octavo of 750 pages, en- 
titled Grandeur ou Declin de la France. There is a 
great deal of good sense in it, and if there were more 
Frenchmen of this author's highly reasonable temper 
the future of France would be less problematical. M. 
de Girardin, who has always been before the public in 


Paris in Election Time 

one way or another, has been more than once called a 
turncoat and a weathercock, but he has really been 
quite self-consistent, for his constant principle has been 
to ask for all the liberty that was possible under the 
circumstances. He glories in the fact that he has never 
been an "irreconcilable" ; he has accepted the situation 
under every government, and exerted himself to get all 

the good that was possible out of it. This long book 

which is but a collection of his newspaper articles of 
the last two years, and which does not contain a single 
word of sterile recrimination against Germany, or even 
of acrimonious allusion is an ardent appeal to his 
countrymen to sink party differences in a frank ac- 
ceptance of the Republic. It may be said that his dem- 
onstration of the issueless character of both monarchy 
and empire is more successful than any insurance he 
has to offer against the perils of that straining radi- 
calism which the Republic carries in its flanks ; but he 
does not claim that the Republic is the millennium, 
only that it is relative repose. Above all he wants things 
settled upon their intrinsic merits, and not by party 
considerations, and he is probably one of the few 
Frenchmen who would have the courage to write, "If 
such a prince is better for such an office than such a 
radical, let us without hesitating take the prince ; but 
if such a radical is better than such a prince, let us 
take the radical. 5 ' But in truth, in France, when the 
radical shall lie down with the prince, I imagine that 
the millennium really will have arrived. M. de Girardin 
has the further audacity to recommend forgiveness of 


Parisian Sketches 

the Prussians to deprecate, that is, in the strongest 
terms, all thoughts of a revanche. He hopes for a peace- 
ful one someday, by diplomatic and equitable means, 
and meantime he wishes France to shake herself free 
of her military incubus. He deliberately entreats her to 
give up arming, and he maintains that if she does it 
Germany will be enchanted to do likewise. I do not 
know that he is absolutely right, but there is certainly 
something to be said in that sense. I have a suspicion, 
however, that M. de Girardin does not privately care 
for the revanche as much as a purely ideal patriotism 
would seem to recommend ; his dream is to see France 
the greatest commercial and industrial country. The 
sanest men have their hobbies, and that of the editor 
of the France is that his country, if it only wills it, may 
become a great maritime power and cover the seas with 
her merchant fleets. Certainly there are things enough 
under the sun France can do, if she will only set her 
house in order and give her mind her admirable mind 
to them. I had marked as worth quoting a couple 
of extracts which M. de Girardin makes from two 
Bonapartist publications, but I have space only to 
allude to them. One of these volumes is by M. Georges 
Lachaud, 8 and it consists of an exemplification of the 
program contained in these words : "The condemnation 
of the French people to gaiety in perpetuity." "Per- 
suaded as we are," says M. Georges Lachaud, on be- 
half of the Empire, "that a dictatorship alone, by dis- 
embarrassing the French people of its grave cares, can 
restore to it its lightness and its grace, we await with 


Paris in Election Time 

impatience the hour in which France will transfer to 
the shoulders of a master the burden that renders her 
thoughtful. Let our future master bring the 'imperial 
corruption' into honor again ! And if ever his detractors 
accuse him of degrading the people, and bring forward 
to outrage him the old Roman device, panem et cir- 
censes, on that day the chief of the state may say with 
pride that he is really a great sovereign !" "The great 
duty of the Empire," M. Lachaud adds and the for- 
mula seems to me an exquisite trouvaille (it is worthy 
to have been put into circulation by Napoleon III him- 
self, who had a genius for the invention of phrases with 
just that sound) "the great duty of the Empire is to 
extirper le pessimisme" Delightful idea! But things 
are not looking well for M. Lachaud's optimism, and 
it seems as if he and his friends were more likely to be 

In the midst of her political turmoil Paris has had 
time to drop a sigh over the grave of Frederic Le~ 
maitre, who died at a very advanced age a fortnight 
ago. The newspapers have been full of tributes to his 
memory, and his death following so close upon that of 
that other grotesquely aged veteran, Dejazet, has been 
a piece of good luck for the anecdote mongers. I in- 
cline to think, from what I have heard and read of 
him, that he was one of the greatest of actors, but that 
he needed a great license, a great margin, to show his 
powers. The present generation had seen him for pov- 
erty had repeatedly driven him back to the stage after 
the chill of age had settled upon him but it did not 


Parisian Sketches 

know him. It is only our elders those who remember 
Victor Hugo's Marion Delorme and Ruy Bias and 
Alexandre Dumas' Anthony as new pieces that know 
him. He was formed by the passionate romantic drama 
that began its career in 1830. He was the actor for the 
time; he inspired Victor Hugo, and Victor Hugo in- 
spired him in turn. He never succeeded at the Fran^ais 
he was too fantastic and audacious he played trag- 
edy with a sense of humor. For an actor he grew old 
very young. He reminds one of what we hear of Gar- 
rick, in having had equal triumph in tragedy and com- 
edy. The theater of our own day, with its relish for 
small, realistic effects, produces no more actors of those 
heroic proportions. The nearest approach to them is 
perhaps to be found in Got 9 at the Theatre Fran9ais, 
who has an element of high fantasy, as those who have 
seen him in the curious revival of the medieval farce 
of Maitre Patelin must remember. But Got is on the 
whole really a philosophic actor, and Frederic Le- 
maitre was an imaginative one. The ideal actor now- 
adays the actor formed by Sardou and Dumas fils 
and Feuillet is Worms of the Gymnase, who renders 
prose, not verse, and whose minute and exquisite strokes 
are like a masterly etching. But Frederic Lemaitre, 
as we see him in his legende, is like a huge, fantastic 
shadow, a moving silhouette, projected duskily against 
the wall from a glowing fire. The fire is the "romantic" 
movement of 1830. 


March 4, 1876 

- 82 



Letter from Henry James, Jr. 







PARIS, Feb. 28, 1876. That a large Republican 
majority has been returned to the new Assembly, that 
the Bonapartists have been (to all present appearance) 
hopelessly beaten, that M. Buff et, in his appeal to four 
electoral districts, has failed with a completeness which 
leaves nothing to be desired, that the said M. Buffet 
has sent in his resignation as vice-president of the 
Council of Ministers, and that Marshal MacMahon has 
accepted it, that the Conservatives in general, and 
timid people in particular, profess themselves terribly 
frightened, and that in fact the Funds have gone down, 
and are staying down all this, by the time these lines 
reach you, will have become an old story, and will pos- 
sibly have been superseded by events even more thrill- 

Parisian Sketches 

ing. For the moment, however, here, this is thrilling 
enough even for those who see no reason for being 
frightened except a deliberate preference for the tragic 
or pathetic state of mind. In the defeat of M. Buffet in 
particular, by the four constituencies to which he had 
presented himself, there has been something singularly 
complete and symmetrical something, as I have seen 
it well observed, of that quality which we attribute to 
providential interposition. It is really a theme for the 
moralist. M. Buffet, for the present, retires to private 
life. When he emerges again, as a man of his tenacious 
instincts inevitably must, how will it stand with the Re- 
public? Not so ill doubtless as the frightened people 
insist upon believing, nor so well perhaps as those who 
pin their faith upon the small radical leaven of the new 
Republican majority would fain proclaim on the house- 
tops. Without giving up everything for lost, or taking 
the fall of the Rentes too much to heart, or insisting 
to gagner la frontiere if one has time, as one of the 
characters in Ufitrangere says it may be affirmed 
that the situation is as serious as it has been for many 
a day. But it is serious in a good and healthy sense. 
The Republic is now for the first time in Republican 
hands, and it remains to be seen what they will make 
of it. The day of speeches and promises and generali- 
ties is over, and the day of political conduct has come. 
It entails a great responsibility, and it will be interest- 
ing to see how the party of M. Gambetta meet the oc- 
casion. In so far as they are the party of M. Gambetta 
the prospect is fair enough, for the conduct of their 

Parisian Affairs 

leader during the late campaign has been distinguished 
by moderation, tact, and extreme political sense. His 
split with the pure Radicals is now complete, and if he 
gets the start of them in the coming session, as there 
is no good reason why he should not, they will have 
lost their power to compromise him. His enemies affirm 
that he will throw off the mask and show himself as red 
as the reddest. I doubt it; he has been at too much 
trouble to put the mask on, and he has learned to wear 
it too well. He would want, if nothing else, to reap the 
crop of his discomfort. In the present situation of the 
Republican party there is certainly something inspir- 
ing if they will understand it understand that they 
have just prejudices and damning associations to over- 
come, that the presumption is fairly enough against 
them, and that they are exceptionally bound to mod- 
eration, tact, and patience. Some people despair of 
their doing anything of the sort, others hope they will, 
others go so far as to believe they will. With a very 
little encouragement I shall feel like passing from the 
second to the third category. We shall not get that 
encouragement, however, from hearing Victor Hugo, 
as soon as the Senate opens, present a request for a 
universal amnesty. This performance will be a perfect 
specimen of the things which, under the circumstances, 
the new majority must on no account do. 

If it is true that the country is going to the bad, and 
that the celebrated "era of revolutions" is again to 
open, people are beguiling the interval in such fashion 
as they may. A convenient sedative to suspense is found 


Parisian Sketches 

to be an evening at the Theatre Fran9ais, where they 
are now playing Alexandre Dumas' long-expected 
drama UEtrangere. Besides your evening, in this case 
you can get plenty to talk about afterward. The pro- 
duction of this piece has been the event of the winter. 
Besides its intrinsic importance, there were several ac- 
cessory reasons for its attracting attention. It is the 
first play (if I am not mistaken) that Dumas has pro- 
duced since his election to the Academy, as well as the 
first that he has presented to the Theatre Fran9ais. 
The curiosity of the public, moreover, had been very 
skillfully stimulated, and the last rehearsal of the play 
had all the honors of a first representation. Ufitran- 
gere, after all, has been but a moderate success 
though, certainly, many a poor playwright would be 
enchanted that "moderation" should deal out his lau- 
rels and his percentage in this particular fashion. The 
great theater is crowded, and for the least little or- 
chestra chairs you have to apply a week in advance. 
Nevertheless, the play is pronounced indifferent by 
some people, and shockingly bad by others. No one, 
as far as I have observed, has had the originality to 
call it good. I happened to hear it discussed, a few days 
since, among several gentlemen who are more or less 
of the same guild as its author, and it was as pretty 
a cutting up as one could desire to see. 1 The general 
verdict was that Alexandre Dumas has so much wind 
in his sails (from former successes) that he will float 
safely across his present shallows, but that his decline 
(since decline it is) will be cumulative; that another 


Parisian Affairs 

piece as bad as UEtrangere will have much worse luck, 
and that the more gentle the public has been for the 
author hitherto, the more pitiless it will be when he 
begins to sink. Has he already begun to sink? I con- 
fess that L'fitmngere strikes me as a rather desperate 
piece of floundering in the dramatic sea. It is a long 
story, and I cannot pretend to relate it in detail. Suffice 
it that the Foreigner who gives its title to the piece, 
and who is played by that very interesting actress, 
Mme. Sarah Bernhardt, 2 is a daughter of our own 
democracy, Mrs. Clarkson by name. She explains, in 
the second act, by a mortal harangue the longest, by 
the watch, I have ever listened to that she is the 
daughter of a mulatto slave girl and a Carolinian 
planter. As she expresses it herself, "My mother was 
pretty: he remarked her; I was born of the remark." 
Mrs. Clarkson, however, has next to nothing to do with 
the action of the play, and she is the least successful 
figure that the author has ever drawn. Why she should 
be an American, why she should have Negro blood, why 
she should be the implacable demon that she is repre- 
sented, why she should deliver the melodramatic and 
interminable tirade I have mentioned, why she should 
come in, why she should go out, why, in short, she 
should exist all this is the perfection of mystery. She 
is like the heroine of an old-fashioned drama of the 
Boulevard du Crime who has strayed unwittingly into 
a literary work, in which she, is out of time with all her 
companions. She is, on Dumas' part, an incredible error 
of taste. It must be confessed, however, that her en- 

87 * 

Parisian Sketches 

trance into the play has a masterly effectiveness. The 
whole first act indeed is an excellent start, though the 
goal is never really reached. As one of the characters 
says, we are en pleine decomposition sociale. The 
Duchess de Sept-Monts is giving a charity ball, and 
the circle of her particular intimates is collected about 
her in one of her apartments. The lady in question has 
been sold by her father, a retired tradesman of im- 
mense fortune, to a penniless and exhausted little rake, 
who, driven to bay by his creditors, has been delighted 
to raise money on his ducal title by the simple expedient 
of matrimony. Her father and her husband are present, 
and the conversation alights upon Mrs. Clarkson, the 
mysterious American, her beauty, her diamonds, her 
sinister reputation, her innumerable conquests, and her 
total absence of female friends. No respectable woman 
has ever entered her house or has ever received her. It 
so happens that the Duchess's father, her husband and 
her lover are all entangled in Mrs. Clarkson's toils, and 
these facts more or less explicitly transpire. The bale- 
ful beauty is moreover even now on the premises ; she 
has been seen in the garden among the visitors present 
by right of having purchased their ticket seen on the 
arm of the Duchess's lover (a lover who is as yet, I 
hasten to add, sincerely platonic). Abruptly the Duch- 
ess is approached by a servant with a card, which she 
reads in deep agitation. She writes a few words on an- 
other card and gives it to the footman; he goes off 
with it, and then she reads aloud to the company the 
contents of the first missive. Mrs. Clarkson requests 


Parisian Affairs 

permission to be admitted to the salon in which the 
Duchess sits apart with her intimates, there to receive 
from the Duchess's own hands a cup of tea. In com- 
pensation, she offers to pay for her cup of tea the sum 
of 25,000 francs, which the Duchess will make over to 
the charity for which the ball has been given. At the 
revelation of this audacity the little circle is aghast, 
and demands with a single voice what the Duchess has 
answered. The Duchess has answered that Mrs. Clark- 
son may be admitted if one of the gentlemen actually 
about the hostess will go out, offer his arm, and con- 
duct her into the ducal presence. There is a particular 
silence half-a-dozen gentlemen are present, but not 
one of them moves. Finally the shaky, unclean little 
Duke himself (admirably played by Coquelin) 8 stands 
forth and declares that he will play the gallant part. 
The announcement makes a great sensation, for it is 
his presumed mistress that he proposes to introduce 
to his wife. He departs and shortly afterward returns, 
bearing Mrs. Clarkson on his arm, in all the effective- 
ness of the strange physiognomy and the fantastic 
toilet of yellow and black which Mme. Sarah Bernhardt 
has conferred upon her. "A cup !" shouts the outraged 
Duchess, sticking to her bargain and nothing but her 
bargain. I must not relate what follows. The real hero- 
ine of the play is Mile. Croizette,* who played the 
Duchess with a great deal of skill and with all that 
strangely meretricious charm for which she is re- 
nowned. She has one really magnificent scene a scene 
in which the ill-used (but on her own side by no means 


Parisian Sketches 

unpeccant) heroine, the cup of whose disgust at her 
husband's turpitude is full, pours it all forth in rage 
and scorn upon his ignoble head. This is nature caught 
in the act Mile. Croizette's cries and gestures, the 
passionate reality of her imprecations, electrify the 
house. The author makes his duchess say things which 
have never before been said on the stage, but the artis- 
tic good faith of the actress carries them off. 

I should mention that there is also a Mr. Clarkson 
in the play a gentleman engaged in gold-washing in 
Utah, while his wife drinks tea at five thousand dollars 
the spoonful in Paris. Half the merit of this figure is 
with Febvre, 5 who represents it, and who, in particular, 
has dressed his Yankee with great felicity quite in the 
occidental taste, and yet without the least exaggera- 
tion. On the whole, as I have said, L'fitrangere has 
been a disappointment, and it is unquestionably a very 
unsatisfactory piece of work for so clever a man as 
Dumas. It hangs very loosely together, and the story 
is both extremely improbable and profoundly dis- 
agreeable. Disagreeable, above all, for there is not a 
person in the play who is not, in one way or another, 
misbehaving grossly. Everyone is in the wrong, and 
the author most of all. And then his drama is saturated 
with that aroma of bad company and loose living which 
is the distinctive sign of M. Dumas' muse. This lady is 
afflicted with a congenital want of perception of cer- 
tain rudimentary differences between the possible, for 
decent people, and the impossible. She has also on this 
occasion abused her characteristic privilege of indulg- 


Parisian Affairs 

ing in pretentious tirades of the would-be philosophic 
order explaining that love is physics and marriage 
is chemistry, &c. 

It appears that for a number of weeks past we have 
been in Carnival. I confess that I never suspected it, 
and, by way of making up my arrears of perception 
of the subject, I went last night to the masked ball of 
the Opera. This was the only ball that the Opera, in 
its present gorgeous domicile, has offered. Half a 
dozen used to be given annually in the old opera house, 
but the present establishment considers this vulgar 
profusion beneath its dignity. It seems to me quite 
right, for, without making too much of the merits of 
the present structure, one may affirm that they are at 
least of a higher order than the laborious gambols of 
the rabble to show, last night, the privilege of dancing 
was by common consent surrendered. The crowd of 
spectators was enormous, but the maskers and dancers 
were woefully seedy and shabby. The bea/ux jours of 
masked revelry in Paris are evidently over. Peace to 
their ashes ! The new Opera, arranged for the purpose 
as the French know how to arrange such things, made 
a superb ballroom, and Strauss's orchestra, on its im- 
mense platform, thundered away with an impressive- 
ness which might have made the antics of dancers a 
trifle less dingy seem heroic. Behind the open stage the 
foyer de la danse was exhibited in a very effective man- 
ner. It is a kind of huge rococo boudoir, ornamented 
with medallions bearing portraits of all the great mis- 
tresses of the pirouette, from the Camargo to Carlotta 


Parisian Sketches 

Grisi. 6 It was filled with plants and grassy banks, 
among which you might fancy the ghosts of these de- 
parted sylphs coming down in their short-skirted 
shrouds to execute a spectral ballet, and at its back 
was a great wall of plate glass, which reflected the 
whole hall and doubled its extent. This was a good deal 
more than enough, however, for a masked ball at a 
theater begets, as Hamlet says, a pestilent congrega- 
tion of vapors. As I came away betimes, and saw the 
great mounted cuirassiers stationed in the darkness 
along the approaches, they seemed in their immobility 
to have something refreshingly severe and monumental. 

March 25, 1876 



Letter from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, March 10. Except [for] the assembling of 
the Senate and the Chamber I can think of no event 
of importance of recent occurrence here save the re- 
ception of M. John Lemoinne * at the Academy, which 
took place a week since. M. John Lemoinne is the 
eminent journalist the bright particular star of the 
Debats and journalism has received in his person at 
the hands of the Academy a compliment of which, if 
she particularly desires to, she may be proud. It was 
a proud day at least for the Journal des Debats. John 
Lemoinne replaces Jules Janin, 2 who spent forty years 
in the "basement," as they call it, of that honorable 
sheet turned off every Monday during that period 
the dramatic f euilleton which graces the bottom of its 

Parisian Sketches 

otherwise somewhat austere first two pages. He pro- 
nounced the customary eulogy of his departed con- 
frere, and M. Cavillier-Fleury replied to him at very 
great length with a eulogy of himself, M. Cavillier- 
Fleury being the principal literary critic of the Jour- 
nal des Depots. It was therefore, for this journal, quite 
a fete de famUle. M. John Lemoinne is a very clever 
man; he possesses in perfection the French "art of 
saying," and if the Academy was designed simply to 
represent good writing, he has an eminent claim to a 
place in it. (It is singular, by the way, that M. John 
Lemoinne should, as a writer, be of so pure a French 
strain. He was born in England, and, in a measure, 
educated there, and he speaks our language irreproach- 
ably.) If, however, to reward good thinking and good 
feeling is a part of the Academy's mission, 3 M. Le- 
moinne's right of entrance does not seem so unques- 
tionable. Brilliant, incisive, and trenchant as he always 
is, I have never been able to resist the feeling that there 
is something very dry and sterile in his political criti- 
cism. To say acrimonious and contemptuous things in 
a masterly manner appears to be the sum of his am- 
bition. He is essentially what the French call a frondeur 
a faultfinder; his criticism is always restrictive and 
denunciatory, never suggestive or inspiring, and he 
lacks supremely Matthew Arnold's famous requisite of 
"sweetness." This is the greater pity, as he has evi- 
dently plenty of "light." He seems to proceed by fits 
of irritation. He appears in the DSbats not daily, but 
at intervals; suddenly darts forth, whirling his sling 


Parisian Topics 

and letting fly his sharp flints. When he has quite dark- 
ened the air with them he retires to his tent feeling 
better himself for the time, I hope to await a fresh 
re-exasperation of his wrath. It is all nervous, capri- 
cious, splenetic. M. John Lemoinne's chief stock in 
trade is his peculiarly insidious hatred of England, 
and, indeed, during the past winter, exciting as the 
political situation has been, it is only the perfidy of 
Albion that has been able to rouse him to utterance. 
At the time of the purchase of the Khedive's shares he 
came out, as the phrase is, very strong, and produced 
two or three articles in which the expression of wither- 
ing enmity could not have been surpassed. England, 
for M. Lemoinne, is a shabby country at the best, but 
her unpardonable sin was her failure to come to the 
rescue of France when the latter was bleeding to death 
in the grip of Prussia her "standing watching us 
stretched on the earth like gladiators." And yet even 
this is not sufficient to account for such a perennial 
freshness of hostility. The reader cannot rid himself 
of a feeling that M. John Lemoinne is avenging a per- 
sonal injury; where does the shoe pinch, he wonders; 
whom has he in his mind a qui en veut-il? These con- 
jectures are probably fantastic, and they are certainly 


The fact remains, however, that M. Lemoinne's Eng- 
land is very much an affair of his imagination; it is, 
as the London Times said the other day, an article de 


Parisian Sketches 

Paris. I may add that the sturdiest Anglo-Saxon must 
have had last week a kindly feeling for the new Acade- 
mician, in seeing him undertake the heroic task of 
eulogizing (I was going to say apologizing for) Jules 
Janin. M. John Lemoinne did his best, but unless I 
am very much mistaken one hears the creaking of the 
pump. There have been many strange Academicians, 
but I think there has been none quite so strange as the 
dramatic critic of the Debats. There have been Acade- 
micians whose literary titles were of the slenderest, and 
who were admitted for reasons of state thinly dis- 
guised motives of convenience and propriety; there 
have been heaven knows ! dull, dreary, insipid Acad- 
emicians, authors of classical, respectable, unreadable 
prose and verse. There have also been flimsy and futile 
Academicians, whose literature was of a vaporous and 
imponderable sort. But there was none before M. Jules 
Janin who had erected futility into a system and raised 
flimsiness to a fine art. 

There are writers in whom mannerism has gone very 
far, but there are none in whom it has become the all 
in all to the same degree as in Janin. His mannerism 
in his later years attained the proportions of a mon- 
strosity. Such a shuffling away of substance, such a 
juggling with thought, partook really of the nature 
of the magical. He was the great master of the type 
of criticism that speaks of everything but the subject, 
and that spins its phrases faster in proportion as it has 
less and less to say. Janin ended very early by having 


Parisian Topics 

nothing in life to say, and the rattle and clatter he 
made in saying it was to all healthy intellectual men 
the most intolerable noise conceivable. If the Academy 
has any meaning, one would say that its meaning 
should be exactly that its honors are not for writers 
of the Janin family. But has the Academy any mean- 
ing? Two or three incidents have lately occurred which 
make the inquiry proper. The most striking was cer- 
tainly the admission among the sacred party, last 
spring, of Alexandre Dumas fils. M. Dumas is su- 
premely clever, and he has composed dramas which it 
is impossible, on certain sides, too highly to admire; 
but it seems to me that he has about as much business 
in the Academy as in the Cabinet of the Emperor of 
China. He is a man with a fixed idea a monomaniac. 
He can see nothing in life but the "unfortunate" 
woman ; she is the pivot of his imagination all his in- 
spiration, his allusions and metaphors are drawn from 
her. If the Academy were an intellectual asylum, with 
wards, cells, and keepers, M. Dumas might very well 
appeal to its hospitality ; but as it is, there is something 
grotesque in his presence there. The prime duty of the 
Academy ought to be to distinguish between the 
cracked vessel and the sound; 5 and it seems to me that 
if she had observed this duty, she would have said to 
Jules Janin and Alexandre Dumas, alike (dissimilar 
in talent as they are), that they were welcome to be 
clever, and popular, and brilliant, but that they were 
made of precisely the stuff she could not wear they 


Parisian Sketches 

were deformed, erratic, mistaken. "Here is a certain 
straight line," she should have said, "you and I can 
never be on the same side of it." 


I saw a few days since a large picture lately finished 
by M. Gerome * for the gentleman in New York whom 
I mentioned some time since as the purchaser of Meis- 
sonier's "1807," and such reasons as made it opportune 
to allude to that work apply in the present case. They 
apply, however, with less force, for in Gerome's "Char- 
iot Race" (as I suppose the picture is called), Mr. 
A. T. Stewart has made a less brilliant acquisition. On 
the other hand, the picture is not on exhibition. It is 
a capital example of the artist's archaeological skill 
though it would require a specialist to determine, on 
this line, its triumphs and its shortcomings. What the 
ordinary observer sees is that the painter has mastered 
a vast amount of curious detail, and after all, unless 
the ghost of some old Roman man about town comes 
back for the purpose, I do not see who is to prove that 
M, Gerome's ingenious reconstruction is either a good 
likeness of the actual scene or a poor one. I believe that 
the eminent architect, M. Viollet-le-Duc (who, by the 
way, though lavishly patronized by the Empire, has 
lately come out as a thoroughgoing radical), worked 
with the painter in Rome at the plan of the picture. 
It represents what I take to be the Circus Maximus, 
on a day of high festivity ; behind rise the towers, pal- 


Parisian Topics 

aces, and terraces of the Palatine, and into the distance 
stretches away the vast ellipse of the arena. The spec- 
tators are embanked above it in. high, steep, parti-col- 
ored slopes, the sunshine pouring over them or over 
those that we see and touching the reds and yellows 
of their dresses into gaudiness. Down the center of 
the circus runs a long, narrow platform, covered with 
brazen monuments and columns, and making at each 
extremity the corner which the chariots are to turn. 
They have reached the end which is presented to the 
spectators of the picture, and they are in the act of 
rounding the brazen cape, from which a great por- 
phyry column rises like a lighthouse. They are eight 
in number as one distinguishes them among their 
clouds of dust and each has three horses abreast. It 
is a fierce mMee of beasts, men, and wheels ; the strug- 
gle and confusion are powerfully expressed, and the 
horses and chariots painted with that hard, consum- 
mate finish characteristic of the author. The coloring 
of the picture, meanwhile, is not that to which Gerome 
has accustomed us ; it has a certain anomalous crudity 
and an abuse of bricklike tones. It is evident, however, 
that this is perfectly calculated. The painter has wished 
to represent the full glare of sunshine on bedizened and 
gilded surfaces, on stained and painted walls, and on 
garments in which the mingled and complex tones of 
the modern costume were unknown. He has an immense 
expanse of functionaries in one section of the auditory 
senators possibly draped in pure vermilion. 


Parisian Sketches 


The adventurous American in Paris at the present 
moment is deriving much entertainment from going to 
see the highly successful melodrama of the Chevaliers 
de la Patrie, at the Theatre Historique. I say "adven- 
turous," because the theater in question is very far off, 
and, though of splendid aspect and proportion, much 
frequented by that class of amateurs who find the sus- 
pense of the entr'actes intolerable without the beguile- 
ment of an orange. The drama in question treats 
bravely of the American civil war, and the "chevaliers" 
from whom it takes its name are Abraham Lincoln and 
Stonewall Jackson. It is in no less than eight acts, but 
I sat to the end, for it is a most exhilarating affair. 
The author, one M. Delpit, 7 is, I believe, by birth a 
Louisianian. He evidently "knows better," but he 
knows that his audience does not, and he gives them 
their money's worth of local color. In the first act the 
greater part of the dramatis personae are assembled 
on a steamboat on the Potomac, and they all come to 
the side of the vessel and narrate their histories to the 
audience. Meanwhile the steamboat is racing with a 
craft of an opposition line, and the captain has for- 
mally announced that his boat must win the race or 
blow up. One or other of the boilers must burst they 
can only hope it will be the other. The passengers ex- 
claim in chorus, "All right !" and await further devel- 
opments. At last the rival steamboat comes alongside, 
and, after a moment of painful suspense, explodes. 


Parisian Topics 

"It's the other !" cry the passengers, and continue their 
promenade on the deck. The sequel is worthy of this 
beginning, but I cannot begin to unweave its tangled 
web. Abraham Lincoln is ever administering justice in 
one of the saloons of the White House, like a primitive 
chieftain under the spreading oak. The White House, 
indeed, appears to open out in the rear into the forest 
primeval. The scene is of course in a high degree farci- 
cal, but the actor who represents Mr. Lincoln has suc- 
ceeded in making up his head into a very tolerable 
likeness of the original. Then we are transported to the 
southern army, in which two gallant young Frenchmen 
have come to seek commissions, and [are] introduced 
to Stonewall Jackson and the famous cavalry chieftain, 
Stuart. This, of course, furnishes the opportunity for 
a very dramatic contrast Jackson sitting reading the 
Bible on one side of the stage, Stuart draining his glass 
on the other, and the southern army displayed in the 
background. Stuart proposes to give a fete in the eve- 
ning, but Jackson piously protests. Stuart, however, 
insists. Jackson goes off in sorrow, if not in anger, and 
the fete consisting of a dozen Negro minstrels and as 
many ballet girls is promptly put forward. It is in- 
terrupted, however, by the return of Jackson on a 
litter, fresh from the field of battle, and mortally 
wounded. During the fete a battle has been raging, 
at which Stuart's attendance appears to have been 
deemed superfluous. Jackson, in his death agony, struts 
and stamps about the stage, and requests the two 
French officers to repair straightway to Washington 

- 101 

Parisian Sketches 

and kidnap Mr. Lincoln. This they proceed to do in 
the next act ; but Wilkes Booth whose name has been 
altered by the censorship comes very near being be- 
forehand with them. They are all baffled, however, by 
the sublimity of Mr. Lincoln's conversation, and the 
curtain falls upon the reunion of the French officers 
and their sweethearts in one of the parlors of the White 
House, where the President fraternally blesses them. 
There is a certain analogy between this brave bur- 
lesque and the lively travesty of actual things pre- 
sented in M. Victor Tissot's 8 second volume on his ad- 
ventures in Germany. The book has been out but a few 
days, and it is already in its eighth edition. M. Victor 
Tissot is the author of the Voyage au Pays des Mil- 
liards, which was published a few months since, and is 
now in its twenty-second edition. He at present gives 
a sequel, Les Prussiens en Attemagne, which I suppose 
will gain the same distinction as its predecessor that 
of being placed under an interdict in Berlin. This last 
circumstance raises the one presumption in favor of 
M. Tissot's veracity. He is exceedingly clever, admi- 
rably observant, and his Teutophobia, as an exhibition 
of vivacity and energy, is really very fine. But, like M. 
Lemoinne's England, his Germany is quite an article 
de Paris. I heard a gentleman of Germanic sympathies 9 
characterize an impertinent fable the other day as du 
Tissot tout pur, and certainly M. Tissot's reader 
largely repunctuates his pages with interrogation 
marks. He should remember the proverb that he who 

102 > 

Parisian Topics 

wishes to prove too much proves nothing. The French, 
they say, are beginning to study Germany, but they 
had better not take M. Tissot's volumes for their text- 

April 1, 1876 




Letter -from Henry James, Jr. 






PARIS, March 21. In default of any topic with a 
high interest of what the French call "actuality," there 
is something to say today about pictures. I have re- 
cently seen a good many; but heaven forbid I should 
speak of them all! I have seen several, however, the 
reappearance of which in the art market is worth com- 
memorating, and may interest those people at least 
who keep a record of such matters. Two important 
collections of French pictures, formed many years ago 
in Holland, are about to be dispersed in consequence 
of the death of their owners, and have of course been 
sent to Paris to be disposed of. This operation is to 
take place a month hence at the Hotel Drouot, and 
meanwhile one seems to hear the meditative rattle of 
coin in the sidepockets of amateurs not compelled, like 


Art and Letters in Paris 

most newspaper correspondents, to be purely platonic. 
I had the pleasure, the other day, of having an an- 
ticipatory view of these two collections, which are not 
yet on exhibition, and it yielded me much entertain- 
ment. Part of the entertainment was perhaps independ- 
ent of the rigidly intrinsic merit of Meissonier and De- 
camps, 1 and consisted in lounging upon an ottoman 
in a quiet room in an establishment in which the effec- 
tive presentation of works of art has itself been raised 
to a fine art, and seeing the gems of the series I men- 
tion pluciked forth from an adjoining place of de- 
posit and arrayed before me in skillful juxtaposition. 
They certainly order this matter better in France than 
anywhere in the world. A catalogue of each of the col- 
lections of which I speak has been put forward, illus- 
trated by etchings from eminent hands, many of which 
are admirable so much so that people of modest as- 
pirations, possessing the catalogue, may almost con- 
sole themselves for being unlikely ever to possess any 
of the works it describes. Among these there are two 
or three charming Decamps and a couple of small but 
superlative Meissoniers. Decamps is a painter of whom 
I never tire, and one of the very few French artists in 
whom, in the long run, one finds it possible to take a 
sentimental pleasure, counting Delacroix, Millet, and 
Rousseau 2 as the others. He is not so pure an original 
as they, but like them he has an element of magic, of 
independence of fancy the precious something that 
gives its highest value to a work of art that can be 
learned in no school, and in its absence replaced by 


Parisian Sketches 

no amount of practice. If practice could give it, Meis- 
sonier, Gerome, and two or three of their supremely 
clever confreres ought to be rich in it ; but in fact these 
gentlemen only prove that it is possible to go a good 
way without it. One of the specimens of Decamps is a 
small picture of a little peasant girl sitting under a 
tree in springtime, when the leaves above her are yet 
sparse, but the grass around her thick-strewn with 
anemones, and thrusting a great slice of the bread and 
butter with which she is besmearing her infant lips at 
a little white kid, who stands beside her. The subject 
is not heroic, and to call the scene pastoral, even, seems 
an exaggeration of its pretensions. But it is truly ex- 
quisite, and the landscape, beyond the figures, which 
are immediately in front, and in shadow, melts away 
into soft Italian crags and undulations, and glows with 
silver light. No painter plays with effects of light so 
delicately, and on the whole so unerringly, as Decamps. 
He shrinks from none of the atmospheric mysteries and 
complexities. He may easily be accused, of course, of 
playing too much, and be reminded that, according to 
the canons which have come into fashion of recent 
years, to play in a picture, to disport oneself, dissiper, 
is very nearly as wicked as to play on a Sunday that 
a picture is indeed a kind of concentrated Sunday, a 
transported battleground of right and wrong, a deadly, 
solemn, and responsible thing. He will have, however, 
always, even in his most criminal aberrations, a good 
many admirers among the people who cannot help be- 
lieving that the great charm of art is in its being a 

* 106 

Art and Letters in Paris 

change from life, and not a still narrower consciousness 
of it, and who, even if he were a less brilliant genius, 
would prize in Decamps his strong expression of this 
sentiment. Another example of the same painter is a 
picture of a couple of Italian pifferari, piping before 
an image of the Madonna, in the close, hot streets of 
some little southern city. It is a masterpiece as regards 
the treatment of reflected lights, for there are none 
other. The yellow afternoon sunshine, confined till it 
grows thick, as it were, between walls of moldering 
travertine reflected upon one, and thence reflected back 
upon another, and broken and mixed with vague, 
brown shadows, is here represented with admirable 
verity. Anyone who has walked in the streets of small 
Italian towns late in the long summer days will par- 
ticularly relish this little picture. Such an observer will 
seem to feel the warm, dead air again, and in the places 
on which his eyes lingered, all the mellow the almost 
golden dreariness. 

A painter whom I always meet with pleasure, though 
unfortunately one meets him but seldom, as he died 
many years since, prematurely, before the list of his 
works had grown long, is Marilhat, the precursor of 
the innumerable tribe of clever Frenchmen who during 
the last twenty years have "exploited" the Orient. I 
do not know what Marilhat 3 would have been doing 
now if he had lived to our own day ; but coining when 
he did, and stopping when he did, he has a charm of 
which we must give him all the credit. It is an unhappy 
thing in France, that as soon as an individual makes 


Parisian Sketches 

a hit, in a certain line, in any of the arts, he imme- 
diately, and in spite of himself, founds a school calls 
into activity a multitude of other persons who forth- 
with proceed to "do" that particular thing ; to manu- 
facture it, to elaborate the apparatus and perfect the 
system, so that it may be turned off in large quantities. 
The discovery by Delacroix and Decamps, forty years 
ago, that the bazaars of Cairo and Constantinople af- 
forded a harvest of picturesque subjects is an excel- 
lent case in point. It took a little while for the move- 
ment to spread, and Marilhat, coining first, at his 
leisure, is fresh, charming, and sincere. Marilhat's nat- 
ural refinement, his agreeable fancy, his simple and 
skillful touch, are capitally illustrated in an extremely 
beautiful picture which I the other day had before 
me a great group of cedars perched on a huge, pic- 
turesque embankment of masonry, above a fountain, 
with a group of camel drivers and their beasts resting 
in the shade. It is the old East the East of forty years 
ago, before the era of steamboats on the Nile and the 
British purchase of the Khedive's shares ; 4 and there 
is in particular a certain old white-walled castle in the 
middle distance, which, with its faint gleams and its 
vague shadows, is alone, in vulgar parlance, worth the 
price of the picture. But after Marilhat came the troop 
among whom Gerome is easily chief, and who have ran- 
sacked and rifled the oriental world of the uttermost 
vestige of its mystery, The trick has been learned, the 
recipe has been copied, passed through ten thousand 
hands. For some people the absolutely mechanical 


Art and Letters in Paris 

cleverness of Gerome has produced, as regards the 
East, a complete disenchantment. The worst of all this 
in France is that the secondary people, the imitators, 
the school, the queue, are generally so odiously clever 
that to a certain extent they challenge comparison with 
their betters. 

The collections I have mentioned contain two extraor- 
dinary little pictures by Meissonier minute master- 
pieces each, I did not rank Meissonier just now among 
the French painters I much care for ; but there is none 
we much more greatly admire. One of the diminutive 
panels I mention represents a couple of medieval Lands- 
knechts a battered and grizzled old veteran, seated 
against a wall, and a companion standing beside him. 
This younger man, with his broad, round, densely- 
curled head, his widely divided eyes, his short, narrow 
beard, his hard, good-humored face, the perfection of 
the choice of his type as an adjunct to a dented cuirass 
and a pair of faded red velvet sleeves, is beyond all 
praise. He is as solid and complete as if we had heard 
him whistling while he polished his battered breast- 
plate. An even greater triumph is the other picture, 
which is famous under the title of "The Reader." Ah ! 
what a reader! He is a man of forty, clad in a red 
velvet gown of the sixteenth century, sitting upright 
in a shallow armchair, which supports his elbows, and 
holding open, with the most delicate and sympathetic 
fingers, a goodly little volume of the period, upon 
which his intelligent brow is bent with a slight, pleasur- 
able contraction, while his bearded lips are vaguely 


Parisian Sketches 

pushed forward. Here is ranch in little, if there ever 
was life, thought, history, dignity, culture, all con- 
densed into the expression of a figure which you need 
a magnifying glass to look at properly. There could 
not be more of it if it were six feet high, and we could 
not believe more thoroughly in his admirable red velvet 
gown (it is hard to think that something fine did not 
pass out of human character when gentlemen used to 
wear such garments) if we had been his valet de cham- 
bre, and helped him to put it on. The head is to some 
extent a portrait of the artist. 

Of the various pictures which I saw in combination 
with these, I have left myself no space to speak ; well- 
chosen specimens as they each were, they formed a 
very honorable and brilliant summary of the French 
school exclusive of its landscapists. There were, in 
particular, some admirable examples of the cattle- 
painter BrascassaV who is little known in America, 
but who seems to me to handle his bulls and oxen in 
a much grander fashion than Rosa Bonheur. He has 
a striking resemblance to Paul Potter. 6 Let me com- 
memorate also a couple of pictures by a young man 
named Baillet, 7 a pupil of Breton, the painter of fish- 
wives and harvest women, half bovine, half statuesque. 
M. Baillet is almost as good as his master, and the day 
he becomes quite as good he will be better. One of the 
subjects of which I speak a group of peasant women 
washing clothes in some fresh-water pools near the sea, 
in the early twilight is a very noble performance, and 
displays a union of imagination and self-control which 

Art and Letters in Paris 

speaks well for the artist's future. It may be expected 
to make an impression in the forthcoming Salon. I can 
also not deny myself the satisfaction of turning a com- 
pliment to a young Italian painter, Boldini 8 by name, 
for an admirable work to which, in my extreme relish 
for it, I lately paid more than one visit. (The picture 
in question, I must hasten to add, is, like others to 
which I have had the honor of alluding, the property 
of Mr. A, T. Stewart. I feel, in this connection, like 
the cat in the fairy tale, pointing out the possessions 
of the Marquis of Carabas.) My compliment to M. 
Boldini, to be in keeping, should be flowery and cere- 
monious, like the diction of the last century. He is the 
most skillful among the little band of Italian painters 
which has come into being within a few years past, with 
powder and brocade, rococo fountains, sedan chairs, 
and poodles for their especial inspiration. It is a sort 
of neo-Watteau movement, and its obvious reproach 
is that of triviality. Its equally obvious charm is that 
it is irresistibly entertaining ; it has a naivete, a good 
faith, a light jocularity quite distinct from the stale, 
skeptical cleverness which characterizes so much French 
art. M. Boldini's picture represents a corner of the 
park at Versailles under Louis XVI. A sedan chair 
containing a fine lady, escorted by several fops and 
elegantes, has been deposited, while the carriers stand 
resting, beneath a great wall of horse chestnut trees. 
Nearby is a fountain and a couple of statues, and 
where the horse chestnuts stop a broad cedar spreads 
itself into the brilliant summer light. The figures are 

Parisian Sketches 

very small they belong to the class of what the French 
call little bonshommes; but their animation, expressive- 
ness, and grace, the shimmer of their brocades and vel- 
vets, the gleam of their tense silk stockings, the way 
they hollow their backs and turn out their toes, are 
all extraordinary and delightful. The artist has a real 
divination of the costume of the time and the way it 
must have been worn. His great triumph here, however, 
has been his landscape his great mass of verdure, and 
his dazzling, almost blinding summer light. This is so 
intense that in spite of its immense quantity of green, 
the picture is almost too white. But as a representation 
of objects shining and glowing in the open air, and as 
an almost childishly irreflective piece of fantasy, the 
work is a singular success. 

In saying that there were just now no Parisian "ac- 
tualities" of the first importance, I may seem to have 
slighted the overflow of the Seine, which has lately 
given Paris and its neighborhood plenty to talk about. 
The waters, moreover, are now fast subsiding, and the 
subject is a painful one, owing to the suffering and in- 
jury inflicted upon the poor people who form almost 
exclusively the population of the flooded quarters. Both 
up and down the river, outside of the center of Paris, 
everything habitable has been knee-deep in the water. 
I took a long walk the other night along the quays, 
past Notre Dame and the Jardin des Plantes, to see the 
immersion of Bercy. Since 1848 the river had not been 
so high, but its present condition, like a great many 
painful and cruel things, was extremely picturesque. 

* 112* 

Art and Letters in Paris 

In the city it has been for a fortnight as big as a young 
Mississippi doubling its apparent breadth from quay 
to quay, hiding the arches of the bridges up to the key- 
stone, lifting up its barges and floating baths and 
swimming schools into unprecedented intimacy with 
the basements of the houses, and keeping half the 
badauds the Paris cockneys hanging all day over 
the parapets to watch a new centimeter disappear on 
the painted scale. Poor Bercy, in the sparsely illumi- 
nated darkness, looked like a little prosaic Venice, with 
boats paddling about in the streets and Parisian lamp 
posts rising out of muddy lagoons. 

The only literary event of first-rate importance that 
has occurred in Paris during the winter has been the 
publication of Taine's Ancien Regime^ of which, at the 
time, I made mention. In so sterile a season I suppose 
that the appearance in the last number of the Revue 
des Deux Mondes of the first installment of Ernest 
Kenan's 9 Souvenirs d'Enfance may be spoken of as a 
salient event. The article appears to have attracted 
much attention, but to have caused some disappoint- 
ment. It consists of two parts a few pages of per- 
sonal reminiscence by M. Renan himself, and a narra- 
tive taken down with considerable embellishment 
from the lips of his mother. The story is tame and of 
slender significance ; but M. Kenan's own memoirs are 
enchanting. His touch is more exquisite, his style more 
magical, surely, than any others of the day. The death 
of Daniel Stern (Mme. d'Agoult) 10 and that of Mme. 
I^ouise Colet n may also be spoken of as literary inci- 

* 113 

Parisian Sketches 

dents. Mme. d'Agoult was a serious writer and Mme. 
Colet a light one, but both ladies had had beauty and 
adventures. Of these adventures the Abbe Liszt was 
the hero in one case, and Alfred de Musset in the other. 
I saw quoted the other day from Mme. d'Agoult a felici- 
tous sentence: "An agreeable mind is a mind that is af- 
firmative only in the measure strictly necessary." This 
dictum is characteristic of a writer who was also a 
very skillful maitresse de salon. Mme. Colet never said 
anything so good as that. Some years ago, when Mme. 
Sand published her very ill-advised Elle et Lui, and 
Paul de Musset (the brother of the presumptive origi- 
nal of the hero) retorted with Lui et Elle, Mme. Colet 
cried like Correggio, "Anch 9 io son pittore!" and put 
forth a tale entitled Lui, the purpose of which was to 
prove, as I remember it, that she used to roam in the 
Bois de Boulogne in the small hours of the night in a 
low-necked dress, while "He," roaming hand in hand 
with her, showered kisses upon her shoulders. "Orpheus 
and the Bacchantes" these contributions to erotic his- 
tory were happily called. Poor Orpheus ! 

April 22, 1876 
29 Rue de Luxembourg. 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 






PARIS, April 9. The spring in Paris, since it has 
fairly begun, has been enchanting. The sun and the 
moon haTe been blazing in emulation, and the differ- 
ence between the blue sky of day and of night has been 
as slight as possible. There are no clouds in the sky, 
but there are little thin green clouds, little puffs of raw, 
tender verdure, caught and suspended upon the 
branches of the trees. All the world is in the streets ; 
the chairs and tables which have stood empty all win- 
ter before the cafe doors are at a premium ; the theaters 
have become intolerably close the puppet shows in 
the Champs EllysJees are the only form of dramatic en- 
tertainment which seems consistent with the season. By 
way of doing honor, at a small cost, to this ethereal 
mildness, I went out the other day to the ancient town 


Parisian Sketches 

of Chartres, where I spent several hours of the purest 
felicity* Pure felicity, in this hard world, always de- 
serves to be recorded, and I cannot deny myself the 
pleasure of commemorating my admiration of one of 
the most beautiful churches in France. If one has not 
been traveling for a long time, there is, to an apprecia- 
tive mind, a sort of intoxication in the mere fact of 
changing his place, and if one does so on a lovely 
spring day, under picturesque circumstances, the satis- 
faction is at its highest. To this perhaps rather friv- 
olous emotion I must confess myself extremely sus- 
ceptible, and the effect of it was to send me down to 
Chartres in a shamelessly optimistic state of mind. I 
was so prepared to be entertained and pleased with 
everything that it is only a mercy that the Cathedral 
happens to be a really fine building. If it had not been, 
I should still have admired it inordinately and rendered 
myself guilty of heaven knows what unpardonable 
aesthetic error. But I am almost ashamed to say how 
soon my entertainment began. It began, I think, with 
my hailing a little open carriage on the boulevard and 
causing myself to be driven to the Western Railway 
station away across the river, up the Rue Bonaparte, 
of art-student memories, and along the big, straight 
Rue de Rennes to the Boulevard Montparnasse. Of 
course, at this rate, by the time I reached Chartres 
the journey is of a couple of hours I had almost 
drained the cup of pleasure. But it was replenished 
at the station, at the buffet, from the very good bottle 
of wine I drank with my breakfast. Here, by the way, 

116 * 

Chart res Portrayed 

is another excellent excuse for being enchanted with 
any day's excursion in France wherever you are, you 
may breakfast well. There may, indeed, if the station 
is very small, be no buff et ; but if there is a buffet, you 
may be sure that civilization in the persons of a sym- 
pathetic young woman in a well-made black dress, and 
a rapid, zealous, grateful waiter presides at it. It was 
quite the least, as the French say, that after my break- 
fast I should have thought the Cathedral, as I saw it 
from the foot of the steep hill on which the town stands, 
rising high above the clustered houses, and seeming to 
make of their red-roofed agglomeration a mere pedestal 
for its immense beauty, promised remarkably well. You 
see it so as you emerge from the station, and then, as 
you climb slowly into town, you lose sight of it. You 
perceive Chartres to be a rather shabby little ville de 
province, with a few sunny, empty open places, and 
crooked, shady streets, in which two or three times you 
lose your way, until at last, after more than once catch- 
ing a glimpse, high above some slit between the houses, 
of the clear gray towers shining against the blue sky, 
you push forward again, risk another short cut, turn 
another interposing corner, and stand before the goal 
of your pilgrimage. 

I spent a long time looking at Chartres Cathedral; 
I revolved around it, like a moth around a candle; I 
went away and I came back; I chose twenty different 
standpoints ; I observed it during the different hours of 
the day, and saw it in the moonlight as well as the sun- 


Parisian Sketches 

shine. I gained, in a word, a certain sense of familiarity 
with it ; and yet I despair of giving any very coherent 
account of it. Like most French cathedrals, it rises 
straight out of the street, and it is without that setting 
of turf and trees and deaneries and canonries which 
contribute so largely to the impressiveness of the great 
English churches. Thirty years ago a row of old 
houses was glued to its base and made their back walls 
of its sculptured sides. These have been plucked away, 
and, relatively speaking, the church is fairly isolated. 
But the little square that surrounds it is regretfully 
narrow, and you flatten your back against the opposite 
houses in the vain attempt to stand off and survey the 
towers. The proper way to look at the towers would be 
to go up in a balloon and hang poised, face to face 
with them, in the blue air. There is, however, perhaps 
an advantage in being forced to stand so directly under 
them, for this position gives you an overwhelming im- 
pression of their height. I have seen, I suppose, churches 
as beautiful as this one, but I do not remember ever to 
have been so touched and fascinated by architectural 
beauty. The endless upward reach of the great west 
front, the clear, silvery tone of its surface, the way a 
few magnificent features are made to occupy its vast, 
serene expanse, its simplicity, majesty, and dignity 
these things crowd upon one's sense with an eloquence 
that one must not attempt to translate into words. The 
impressions produced by architecture lend themselves 
as little to interpretation by another medium as those 
produced by music. Certainly there is something of the 

118 - 

Chartres Portrayed 

beauty of music in the sublime proportions of the 
facade of Chartres. 

The doors are rather low, as those of the English 
cathedrals are apt to be, but (standing three together) 
are set in a deep framework of sculpture rows of arch- 
ing grooves, filled with admirable little images, stand- 
ing with their heels on each other's heads. The church 
as it now exists, except the northern tower, dates from 
the middle of the thirteenth century, and these closely 
packed figures are full of the grotesqueness of the 
period. Above the triple portals is a vast round-topped 
window, in three divisions, of the grandest dimensions 
and the stateliest effect. Above this window is a circular 
window of immense circumference, with a double row 
of sculptured spokes radiating from its center and look- 
ing on its great lofty field of stone, as expansive and 
symbolic as if it were the wheel of Time itself. Higher 
still is a little gallery with a delicate balustrade, sup- 
ported on a beautiful cornice and stretching across the 
front from tower to tower ; and above this is a range of 
niched statues of kings fifteen, I believe, in number. 
Above the statues is a gable, with an image of the Vir- 
gin and Child on its front, and another of Christ on its 
apex. In the relation of all these parts there is such a 
spaciousness and harmony that while on the one side 
the eye rests on a great many broad stretches of naked 
stone, there is no approach on the other to overprofu- 
sion of detail. The little gallery that I have spoken of, 
beneath the statues of the kings, had for me a peculiar 
charm* Unavailable, at its tremendous altitude, for 


Parisian Sketches 

other purposes, it seemed fantastically intended for the 
little images to step down and walk about upon. When 
the great fa?ade begins to glow in the late afternoon 
light, you can imagine them strolling up and down 
their long balcony in couples, pausing with their el- 
bows on the balustrade, resting their stony chins in 
their hands, and looking out, with their little blank 
eyes, on the great view of the old French monarchy 
they once ruled, and which now has passed away. The 
two great towers of the Cathedral are among the no- 
blest of their kind. They rise in solid simplicity to 
about as great a height as the eye often troubles itself 
to travel, and then, suddenly, they begin to execute a 
magnificent series of feats in architectural gymnastics. 
This is especially true of the northern spire, which is 
a late creation, dating from the sixteenth century. The 
other is relatively quiet ; but its companion is a sort of 
tapering bouquet of sculptured stone. Statues and but- 
tresses, gargoyles, arabesques, and crockets pile them- 
selves in successive stages, until the eye loses the sense 
of everything but a sort of architectural lacework. The 
pride of Chartres, after its front, is the two portals of 
its transepts great dusky porches, in three divisions, 
covered with more images than I have space to talk 
about. Wherever you look, along the sides of the church, 
a time-worn image is niched or perched. The face of 
each flying buttress is garnished with one, with the fea- 
tures quite melted away. 

The inside of the Cathedral corresponds in vastness 
and grandeur to the outside it is the perfection of 


Chartres Portrayed 

Gothic in its prime. But I looked at it rapidly, the place 
was so intolerably cold. It seemed to answer one's query 
of what becomes of the winter when the spring chases it 
away. The winter hereabouts has sought an asylum in 
Chartres Cathedral, where it has found plenty of room 
and may reside in a state of excellent preservation until 
it can safely venture abroad again. I thought I had 
been in cold churches before, but the thought had been 
an injustice to the temperature of Chartres. The nave 
was full of the little padded chairs of the Chartres 
bourgeoisie, whose faith, I hope for their comfort, is of 
the good old red-hot complexion. In a higher tempera- 
ture I should have done more justice to the magnificent 
old glass of the windows which glowed through the icy 
dusk like the purple and orange of a winter sunset 
and to the immense sculptured external casing of the 
choir. This latter is an extraordinary piece of work. It 
is a high Gothic screen, shutting in the choir, and cov- 
ered with elaborate bas-reliefs of the sixteenth and sev- 
enteenth centuries, representing scenes from the life of 
Christ and of the Virgin. Some of the figures are ad- 
mirable, and the effect of the whole great semicircular 
wall, chiseled like a silver bowl, is superb. There is also 
a crypt of high antiquity and, I believe, great interest, 
to be seen ; but my teeth chattered a respectful negative 
to the sacristan who offered to guide me to it. It was so 
agreeable to stand in the warm outer air again, that I 
spent the rest of the day in it. 

Although, besides its cathedral, Chartres has no very 
rare architectural treasures, the place is picturesque, 


Parisian Sketches 

in a shabby, third-rate, poverty-stricken sort of fash- 
ion, and my observations were not unremunerative. 
There is a little church of Saint Aignan, of the six- 
teenth century, with an elegant, decayed facade, and a 
small tower beside it, lower than its own roof, to which 
it is joined, in quaint, Siamese-twin fashion, by a single 
long buttress. Standing there with its crumbling Ren- 
aissance doorway in a kind of grass-grown alcove, it re- 
minded me of what the tourist encounters in small Ital- 
ian towns. Most of the streets of Chartres are crooked 
lanes, winding over the face of the steep hill, the sum- 
mit of the hill being occupied by half-a-dozen little 
open squares, which seem like reservoirs of the dullness 
and stillness that flow through the town. In the midst 
of one of them rises an old dirty brick obelisk, com- 
memorating the glories of the young General Marceau 
of the First Republic "soldier at sixteen, general at 
twenty-three, he died at twenty-seven." 2 Chartres gives 
us an impression of extreme antiquity, but it is an an- 
tiquity that has gone down in the world. I saw very few 
of those stately little hotels, with pilastered fronts, 
which look so well in the silent streets of provincial 
towns. The houses are mostly low, small, and of sordid 
aspect, and though many of them have overhanging 
upper stories, and steep, battered gables, there is noth- 
ing very exquisite in their quaintness. 

I was struck, as an American always is in small 
French and English towns, with the immense number 
of shops, and their brilliant appearance, which seems 
so out of proportion to any visible body of consumers. 


Chartres Portrayed 

At Chartres the shopkeepers must all feed upon each 
other, for, whoever buys, the whole population sells. 
The population in the streets appears to consist of sev- 
eral hundred brown old peasant women, between sev- 
enty and eighty years of age, with their faces cross- 
hatched with wrinkles and their quaint white coifs 
drawn tightly over their weather-blasted eyebrows. 
Labor-stricken grandams, all the world over, are the re- 
verse of lovely, for the toil that wrestles for its daily 
bread, morsel by morsel, is not beautifying; but I 
thought I had never seen the possibilities of female 
ugliness so variously embodied as in the crones of Char- 
tres. Some of them were leading small children by the 
hand little red-cheeked girls, in the close black caps 
and black pinafores of humble French infancy a cos- 
tume which makes French children always look like or- 
phans. Those who feel very "strongly" on the subject 
of these little people being put out to nurse, as they 
generally are, may maintain that there is truth in the 
symbol. Others of the old women were guiding along the 
flinty lanes the steps of small donkeys, some of them 
fastened into little carts, others with well-laden backs. 
These were the only quadrupeds I perceived at Char- 
tres. Neither horse nor carriage did I behold, save at 
the station the omnibuses of the rival inns the Grand 
Monarque and the Due de Chartres which glare at 
each other across the Grande Place. A friend of mine 
told me that a few years ago, passing through Chartres, 
he went by night to call upon a gentleman who lived 
there. During his visit it came on to rain violently, and 


Parisian Sketches 

when the hour for his departure arrived the rain had 
made the streets impassable. There was no vehicle to be 
had, and my friend was resigning himself to a soaking. 
"You can be taken of course in the sedan chair," said 
his host with dignity. The sedan chair was produced, 
a couple of servingmen grasped the handles, my friend 
stepped into it, and went swinging back through the 
last century to the Grand Monarque. This little an- 
ecdote, I imagine, still paints Chartres socially. 

Before dinner I took a walk on the planted prom- 
enade which encircles the town the Tour-de-ville it is 
called much of which is extremely picturesque. Char- 
tres has lost her walls as a whole, but here and there 
they survive, and play a desultory part in holding the 
town together. In one place the rampart is really mag- 
nificent smooth, strong, and lofty, curtained with ivy, 
and supporting on its summit an old convent and its 
garden. Only one of the city gates remains a narrow 
arch of the fourteenth century, flanked by two ad- 
mirable round towers, and preceded by a fosse. If you 
stoop a little, as you stand outside, the arch of this 
hoary old gate makes a most picturesque setting for 
the picture of the interior of the town, and on the inner 
hilltop against the sky the large gray mass of the Ca- 
thedral. The ditch is full, and to right and to left it 
flows along the base of the moldering wall, through 
which the shabby backs of houses extrude, and which 
is garnished with little wooden galleries, lavatories of 
the town's soiled linen. These little galleries are filled 
with washerwomen, who crane over and dip their many- 

124 * 

CJiartres Portrayed 

colored rags into the yellow stream. The old patched 
and interrupted wall, the ditch with its weedy edges, 
the spots of color, the white-capped laundresses in their 
little wooden cages one lingers to look at it all. To 
wind up the day I dined at the table d'hote at the Grand 
Monarque, in a company of voyageurs de commerce, 
where I continued my observations. The dinner costs 
three francs fifty centimes; the landlord sits at the 
table and carves the meats, now and then manipulating 
a recalcitrant joint rather freely; the guests empty the 
dregs of their glasses on the floor, and clean their 
knives and forks, between the courses, with bread 
crumbs. But even among these circumstances the classic 
French art of conversation is by no means lost, and in 
paying my three francs fifty centimes I felt that I was 
paying for something more than my material dinner. 

April 29, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 



PARIS, April 22. To say there has been nothing at 
all to see, to hear, or to talk about during any given 
fortnight in Paris is doubtless never a perfectly exact 
statement; but I may safely say that for a couple of 
weeks past the objects of interest have been rather of 
the minor order. Holy Week has come and gone, and 
the Easter holidays are now running their course. Dur- 
ing the former brief period the spirit of profanity was 
exercised much more effectually than I had supposed 
possible in this epicurean city. For a week Paris was 
palpably dull it seemed like a scene at the play when 
the gaslights have been lowered. The impression was in- 
creased by a sudden visitation of cold and sleet, and 
Good Friday was really almost austere. People in search 
of amusement needed sharp eyes to find it, and the wait- 


Parisian Festivity 

ers at the restaurants were almost aggressive in their 
offers of fish. As regards Easter, what we are having 
is much more an English than a French holiday. Early 
on Monday morning the British tourist made his ap- 
pearance on the boulevards, and he has been visible at 
every turn ever since. He has fairly taken possession 
of the city, and if his presence is fleeting it is, so to 
speak, intense. You recognize him farther off than you 
do an American ; he makes a more vivid spot in the pic- 
ture. He is always and everywhere the same carrying 
with him, in his costume and physiognomy, that inde- 
finable expression of not considering anything out of 
England worth making, physically or morally, a toilet 
for. The unanimity with which Englishmen abroad un- 
dress is indeed something surprising, and, say what we 
will, it seems to me in a certain way to be a sort of 
proof of that element of the still untamed and bar- 
barous which some observers profess to find in the na- 
tional character. I am sure M. Taine, for instance, 
never meets of an evening a flannel-shirted, pea- jack- 
eted, soft-hatted son of Albion, followed by his robust 
feminine shadow, all blonde chignon and linsey-woolsey, 
without murmuring to himself that the "Vikings" and 
"Berserkers," the offspring of the north wind and the 
sea fog, are not extinct. Civilization has modified them, 
he must say, but it has not really altered them. No race 
carries a heavier external load of proprieties and con- 
ventional observances, but they are all on the surface, 
they have not been absorbed, and on the slightest pre- 
text the natural man reasserts himself. A good pretext 


Parisian Sketches 

is found in a visit to this brilliant and exquisite Paris, 
the mother of arts and graces! What better proof of 
the undercurrent of barbarism in the British tempera- 
ment can there be (we may still imagine the foreign 
critic inquiring) than the simple fact of the whole 
British nation going into dishabille in this aesthetically 
sacred spot? This has been a beautiful day, and I have 
had occasion to walk about much in the streets. Every 
few moments I have encountered an English family 
papa, mamma, and daughters gazing into a shopwin- 
dow, inquiring the way of the proprietress of a news- 
paper kiosk, or climbing into or out of a cab. I came 
home with a lively reflection uppermost in my mind 
what a godsend is the British tourist to the French 
caricaturist ! The French are an ugly race, if you will ; 
the national type lacks dignity. The English are a 
handsome race; they have nobler lines and a grander 
mold than their neighbors ; and yet, given the British 
physiognomy as you see it, at the end of protruded 
necks, on the boulevards and the Rue de Rivoli, and 
given the subtle, the acute, the diabolical French per- 
ception of external facts, and it is not hard to decide 
in whose shoes, for the moment, we would rather stand. 
My own fingers, as I walked along, itched for the pencil 
of "Cham" or of Daumier. 1 

This is not only the time of the English, it is also 
the time of the exhibitions. There have been two or 
three already at the Palais de PIndustrie, and the series 
is to culminate in ten days, in the opening of the Salon 
of 1876. The last was the great annual horse fair an 


Parisian Festivity 

entertainment known here by the more elegant designa- 
tion of a "Concours Hippique." It lasted a fortnight, 
but I shall not attempt to recite its glories, being a 
stranger to the mysteries of horse flesh. I was present 
the last day, however, at a spectacle which it took no 
particular initiation to enjoy. The Concours terminates 
every year in what is here called a Carrousel a dis- 
play of purely fantastic and picturesque horsemanship. 
The Carrousel was held this year by the cadets of the 
cavalry school of Saumur, and was in every way a high 
festival. The whole vast nave of the Palais de Plndus- 
trie was converted into an oblong arena, and though the 
price of admission had been made high, to exclude the 
populace, the crowd was mighty. Apart from it, under 
a dais, sat the President of the Republic and Mme. 
MacMahon, like a medieval king and queen presiding 
at a tournament. It was simply the circus idealized 
or rather, more correctly, realized. The knights and 
cavaliers who rode at the Saracens' heads and hurled 
their lances (this last not very felicitously, by the way) 
at the great mask of the blackamoor, were real young 
knights, with trappings not of tinsel, and holding their 
honor and their lives in their hands. It was all very 
graceful and gorgeous and effective for those ami- 
able minds at least that linger over the picturesque 
wherever they find it, and are ashamed to ask it im- 
pertinent questions. Such minds, at such a spectacle, 
may here and there have found themselves excusable 
for reflecting on the exclusively brilliant side of mili- 
tary pretensions. Standing armies are abominable 


Parisian Sketches 

things, the necessity of maintaining upward of a mil- 
lion of men for pure destruction is an insupportable 
burden to a country, and the armed suspense in which 
all Europe is living is a reproach to civilization all 
that is most uncontestable. And yet horrible as the 
statement may sound the contemplative American 
often finds himself wishing, or half wishing, that his 
native land had, as a regular thing, some knowledge of 
the military incubus. Don't call him too rudely to ac- 
count his reasons are purely sentimental; he is will- 
ing to admit even that they are immoral. He can only 
say, in his irresponsible depravity, that living in a 
country where the army is a great fact has opened his 
perceptions to some of the good effects of having the 
military virtues and the military spectacle constantly 
before one's eyes. They are an expensive luxury, cer- 
tainly; but it is proper after all to pay high for the 
maintenance, in an honorable style, of such qualities as 
gallantry and bravery. The French, in spite of their 
humiliation and defeats, are to my sense extremely fond 
of their army; they love it, they enjoy it, and admire 
it; they watch it and judge it with a kind of romantic 
tenderness. I felt this the other day at the Carrousel in 
question ; there was a sort of arrested murmur of affec- 
tion and delight running constantly through the vast 
assembly. "AJi, qu'il est gentil, ce petit SmimurienF 9 
you heard your neighbors exclaim; and there was a 
loving cadence in the phrase that made me envy the 
sentiment that produced it. I envied the state of mind 
from which it sprung, as a part of the regular daily 


Parisian Festivity 

consciousness of the citizen and I envied the country 
the possession of the brightly habited class which was 
the object of it. This audacious apology for an argu- 
ment amounts, perhaps after all, to the statement that 
hair-splitters may discern, if they choose to take the 
trouble, that in being without a standing army a coun- 
try loses a few good things, as well as a vast number 
of bad ones. 

An exhibition for which I may at least claim that it 
can give rise (at any rate in my own mind) to no dan- 
gerous perversities of taste is that of the little group 
of the Irreconcilables otherwise known as the "Im- 
pressionists" in painting. 2 It is being held during the 
present month at Durand-Ruel's, and I have found it 
decidedly interesting. But the effect of it was to make 
me think better than ever of all the good old rules 
which decree that beauty is beauty and ugliness ugli- 
ness, and warn us off from the sophistications of satiety. 
The young contributors to the exhibition of which I 
speak are partisans of unadorned reality and absolute 
foes to arrangement, embellishment, selection, to the 
artist's allowing himself, as he has hitherto, since art 
began, found his best account in doing, to be preoccu- 
pied with the idea of the beautiful. The beautiful, to 
them, is what the supernatural is to the Positivists a 
metaphysical notion, which can only get one into a 
muddle and is to be severely let alone. Let it alone, they 
say, and it will come at its own pleasure ; the painter's 
proper field is simply the actual, and to give a vivid 
impression of how a thing happens to look, at a par- 


Parisian Sketches 

ticular moment, is the essence of his mission. This atti- 
tude has something in common with that of the Eng- 
lish Preraphaelites, twenty years ago, but this little 
band is on all grounds less interesting than the group 
out of which Millais and Holman Hunt rose into fame. 
None of its members show signs of possessing first-rate 
talent, and indeed the "Impressionist" doctrines strike 
me as incompatible, in an artist's mind, with the exist- 
ence of first-rate talent. To embrace them you must be 
provided with a plentiful absence of imagination. But 
the divergence in method between the English Pre- 
raphaelites and this little group is especially striking, 
and very characteristic of the moral differences of the 
French and English races. When the English realists 
"went in," as the phrase is, for hard truth and stern 
fact, an irresistible instinct of righteousness caused 
them to try to purchase forgiveness for their infidelity 
to the old more or less moral proprieties and conven- 
tionalities, by an exquisite, patient, virtuous manipu- 
lation by being above all things laborious. But the 
Impressionists, who, I think, are more consistent, ab- 
jure virtue altogether, and declare that a subject 
which has been crudely chosen shall be loosely treated. 
They send detail to the dogs and concentrate them- 
selves on general expression. Some of their generaliza- 
tions of expression are in a high degree curious. The 
Englishmen, in a word, were pedants, and the French- 
men are cynics. 

Among the exhibitions, I take it, may be ranked M. 
Mermet's new opera, Jeanne d'Arc* which, after be- 


Parisian Festivity 

ing kept back for many years and a great deal talked 
about, has at last been produced. It was in rehearsal 
at the time of the destruction by fire of the old Opera 
house, and the composer's score was one of the very few 
objects snatched from the flames. Thus providentially 
rescued, it would seem that M. Mermet's work had 
been reserved for a brilliant destiny. It has found one 
to a certain extent in being put upon the stage at the 
new Opera with extraordinary splendor, and rendered 
by Faure and Mile. Krauss with exemplary zeal; but 
here its good fortune stops. It has made no advance in 
the public favor; it is pronounced hopelessly dull and 
tame. Even to an auditor to whom musical things are 
fathomless mysteries, and who, if he fails to appreciate 
good music, finds in general a compensation in not suf- 
fering from bad, the ponderosity of Jearme d'Arc 
seemed the other night sufficiently palpable. There is 
only one voice to proclaim it, and M. Mermet must 
wish his work had been left to the charity of the flames 
they would have been kinder than the critics. The 
opera is played to full houses, however, thanks to the 
splendor of the spectacle and to the affluence of stran- 
gers who desire to see the house on any terms. The 
mise en scene is indeed superb, and more perfect than 
anything of the same sort that I have ever seen. There 
is in particular a certain representation of the gardens 
of the castle of Blois, with the long mass of the chateau 
foreshortened in the sunshine above them, and the 
goodly Loire country receding in the distance beyond 
the winding, shining rivers, and beneath a vast, bright 


Parisian Sketches 

summer sky, which reaches the highest ideal of scene 
painting. There is also a ballet of ribaudes camp 
maidens and female vagabonds which is the perfection 
of the expensive picturesque. 

I have on my table three or four books of which I 
had meant to speak, but I have as usual left myself 
little space for literature. The literary remains of 
Sainte-Beuve 4 are being brought to light with merci- 
less energy the Chroniques P&risiennes and the 
Cahiers de Sainte-Beuve having appeared within two 
or three weeks of each other. I use the word "merciless" 
rather with regard to the great critic's victims than to 
his own reputation. The emptying of table drawers 
of memoranda after an eminent writer's death has al- 
ways a disagreeable and painful side, 5 but if this post- 
humous rummaging is ever justifiable, it may pass in 
the case of Sainte-Beuve. His literary house was always 
in such good order that an irregular visit will discover 
no untidiness, and moreover he belonged to that only 
small order of minds for which it may be claimed that 
their lightest thoughts and utterances have a value. 
But some of his friends and acquaintances will be more 
interested than gratified to read the notes and observa- 
tions he made upon their conversation and talents for 
his own use. He was sharp enough in his ccvwseries with 
the public, but he was sharper still in tete-a-tete with 
himself. It is interesting to have a glimpse of his liter- 
ary practices to see how he lived pen in hand and took 
notes not only upon what he read but upon what he 
heard, thought, felt, and dreamed. Never was there so 


Parisian Festivity 

literary a life. Another book of the hour is Emile 
Zola's 6 new novel. Son Excellence Eugene Rougon, 
which has attained a success not hitherto enjoyed by 
the productions of this remarkable young writer. The 
success of the present work is owing partly to its clever- 
ness, partly to the fact that it is a presentation, through 
a transparent veil, of actual persons, and chiefly, I sus- 
pect, to its brutal indecency. Eugene Rougon is Eugene 
Rouher, M. de Marsy is M. de Morny, and the initiated 
will tell you who Clorinda Balbi, the heroine, is. This 
last is a most amazing portrait. Emile Zola, a "pupil" 
of Gustave Flaubert, is, as a novelist, the most thor- 
oughgoing of the little band of the out-and-out real- 
ists. Unfortunately the real, for him, means exclusively 
the unclean, and he utters his crudities with an air of 
bravado which makes them doubly intolerable. 

May 13, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 






PARIS, May 5. I find no difficulty today in deciding 
what to write about ; for chroniclers and talkers there 
is only one possible subject. The Salon the ninety- 
third in the history of the institution opened a few 
days since, and all the scribblers are mending their 
pens. 1 1 have paid three visits to the Palais de Plndus- 
trie (in which the exhibition is held) , and I have, I be- 
lieve from my own point of view separated the sheep 
from the goats, and earned the right to attempt some 
coherent discourse. It seems at first as if coherency in 
one's impressions would be slow to arrive ; the first ef- 
fect of so vast an array of pictures, pervaded by a 
high average of cleverness, is most bewildering and con- 
founding. The Salon this year is very large ; there are, 
exclusive of drawings and cartoons and without mak- 


Art in France 

ing mention of sculpture, 2,095 pictures. The regula- 
tion enacted during the present year, in virtue of which 
an artist has a right to exhibit tut two works, has not 
had the effect of reducing the exhibition numerically; 
it contains upward of a hundred pictures more than 
that of 1875. It is, moreover, not of exceptional bril- 
liancy; the number of works which make landmarks 
in its long-drawn extent is not large. It is hardly more 
than a fair average salon though it must be added 
that it may be only this and yet leave a lively impres- 
sion of cleverness upon the Anglo-Saxon visitors. 

Amid such a chaos of productions it is hard to know 
how to measure conflicting claims or what to speak of 
first. The easiest course is perhaps to let simple size 
take precedence, and to dismiss at once what are called 
the "machines" of the exhibition. Large pictures in 
France are usually spoken of as de la pemture de 
style; a properly constituted salon must have a certain 
number of them ; they are a sort of propitiatory offer- 
ing to the "high-toned" Muse. This year there are a 
great many such offerings, but in each of these quality 
and quantity are to my sense more than ever divorced. 
For simple brute size a colossal canvas by Gustave Dore 
carries off the palm a canvas presenting to us M. 
Dore's conception of "Christ's Entrance into Jeru- 
salem. 55 I do not see what old memories of admiration 
for Gustave Dore's genius in the days when he treated 
it with common humanity should avail to make an even 
very amiable critic hesitate to speak of this as a rather 
shameless performance. M. Dore treats his genius now 

' 1S7 * 

Parisian Sketches 

as you wouldn't treat a tough, and patient old cab 
horse; I know of few spectacles more painful in the 
annals of art. Imagine a colored print from the supple- 
ment of an illustrated paper magnified a thousandfold 
and made to cover almost a whole side of a great hall, 
and you have M. Dore's sacred picture. A vast, garish 
crowd is sprawling on its knees over a mass of palm 
boughs, in front of a pasteboard colonnade, through 
one of the arches of which a figure which a school boy 
might have daubed advances on an ass. There is no 
color or worse than none no drawing, no expression, 
no feeling, no remotest hint of detail; nothing but an 
immense mechanical facility, from which every vestige 
of charm and imagination has departed. But it is really 
very naif on my part to be so explicit. There is an im- 
mense Jeanne d'Arc by M. Monchablon, bounding over 
agglomerated corpses, brandishing her sword and hero- 
ically screaming ; I don't know what sustained the artist 
through the execution of this very spacious work it 
was not the force of talent. There is a great canvas 
representing "Harmony, 55 for a governmental ceiling, 
by M. Bin, full of elegant muses and foreshortened lute 
players ; (M. Bin's picture, which is meant to be above 
one's head, horizontally, is hung against the wall, and 
the spectator in consequence is made to feel as if he, 
tipsily, had lost his proper standpoint an imputation 
which he resents by not admiring the picture as much, 
perhaps, as he ought to do) . There is a brilliant and 
elegant group from Ariosto by M. Joseph Blanc the 
deliverance of Angelica from the sea monster the most 


Art in France 

agreeable, to my mind, of the big pictures. It is a kind 
of picture which leaves us cold, but it is very good of 
its kind painted in a high, light tone, full of pinks 
and light blues and other elegant tints, but with a 
great deal of skill of arrangement and refinement of 
taste. It is the only one of the tableaux do style which 
seems to me to possess much style. Style is what M. 
Laccetti, who paints in quite a different tone, and 
affects intense browns and powerful shadows, has aimed 
at in his "Orestes and the Furies." He has only half 
hit it, I think, but he has missed it with a good deal 
of vigor and picturesqueness. 

The striking picture of the year and the one, prob- 
ably, to which nineteen twentieths of the visitors to the 
salon attribute most talent, is a great subject by M. 
Sylvestre a "Locusta trying the effects of poisons 
before Nero." As a subject the thing is detestable, inas- 
much as it allows almost no chance for beauty ; but as 
an accomplished and picturesque piece of painting of 
the younger, larger, and richer academic sort, com- 
bining a good deal of reality with a good deal of ar- 
rangement, it is a remarkable success. I suppose the 
picture is marked for the medal of honor or at least 
for the first medal in painting. Nero is seated, leaning 
forward, with his elbow on the back of his chair, and 
his hand over his mouth, watching the contortions of 
a slave who, extended on the pavement, is expiring in 
agony before him. Beside him, and nearer the spectator, 
is seated the horrible Locusta, descanting upon the 
properties of her dose, her face turned toward him and 

139 * 

Parisian Sketches 

ier arm, with a strangely familiar gesture, lying across 
tiis knee the movement of the outstretched hand 
meanwhile giving point to her explanation. She is a 
gaunt, swarthy gypsy, half naked, and with the profile 
of a murderess. Nero is both listening and watching, 
and the grave, intent, inquisitive depravity of his dark, 
fat, youthful face is very cleverly rendered. The por- 
tentous familiarity, the sinister "chattiness" of this 
precious couple is indeed in a high degree effective. 
But the strong point of the picture is the figure of 
the victim of their interesting experiment the slave 
who is writhing in a horrible spasm upon the polished 
marble pavement. This is strong drawing and strong 
painting, and it does great honor to the young artist. 
The man is a magnificent fellow, in his prime, with a 
fair beard and a yellow headcloth, and he stretches out 
his arms with an agonized movement which is at once 
very real and very noble. Into this figure, indeed, the 
painter has introduced a certain element of beauty it 
has great breadth and yet much detail, great solidity 
and yet not a little elegance. It is, in a word, very in- 
telligent. But there is something vulgar in the way the 
picture is lighted, something coarse in its tone, some- 
thing in the effect it produces that falls below the talent 
that has been expended upon it. M. Sylvestre is not a 
painter who sets you dreaming about his future. The 
same subject has been treated by another artist, M. 
Aublet, with inferior although with noticeable skill. 
M. Aublet gives us three or four poisoned slaves, wrig- 
gling over the pavement in different attitudes; the 


Art in France 

effect is slightly grotesque they suggest toads hop- 
ping out after a shower. This simple jest is not heart- 
less, inasmuch as M. Aublet's slaves do not produce a 
lively impression of reality. His picture is flanked on 
each side by an equally huge and much less clever scene 
of torture one, a so-called "Diversion of a Courtesan" 
a lady reclining on a gigantic couch and watching 
a slave bleed to death at her feet (I recommend the 
subject), the other "Clytemnestra and Agamemnon," 
reeking with blood and mediocrity. It is a charming 
trio, and it is a great pity it should not be seen by 
those critics in Berlin who affirm that French art is 
chiefly remarkable for its cruelty. 

If M. Sylvestre's picture is the most impressive in 
the Salon, I have no doubt that the most popular will 
be the contribution of M. Detaille, the admirable mili- 
tary painter. It is indeed already, of all the pictures, 
the most closely surrounded, and it has a good right 
to its honors. It is called "En Reconnaissance," and 
represents a battalion of chasseurs coining into a vil- 
lage street in which a cavalry fight has just taken place 
and scattered its trophies over the ground. A squad 
of sharpshooters is preceding the rest of the troop and 
advancing cautiously along the crooked, bloodstained 
lane. They have paused and are scanning the lay of the 
land in front of them the leader checking them with 
a backward movement of his hand, while he listens to 
an urchin who has come up to speak to him & patriot 
of thirteen, in blouse and muffler, doing his boyish best 
to be useful, and give damaging information. This boy, 

. 141- 

Parisian Sketches 

with his light, small body, so well indicated beneath his 
thin blouse, his cold red face, his hand in his pocket, 
his scanty trousers, is the great success of the picture ; 
in the gesture with which he points, eagerly and mod- 
estly, down the street there is something singularly 
vivid and true. On the right, in the foreground, a 
Prussian lancer and his horse have lately tumbled head 
foremost; though they are not yet cold they are piti- 
fully and awkwardly dead. A couple of the sharpshoot- 
ers are glancing down at them as they pass, with dif- 
ferent expressions "It served him right" in one case ; 
"It's a bad business at best" in the other. These men 
are all admirably studied. On the left a gendarme, 
badly wounded, has collapsed against a garden wall, 
through the open gate of which a man, peeping out, is 
trying to drag him in. In the rear, through the gray 
snowy air, the rest of the chasseurs are coming up. The 
picture is remarkably perfect and complete a page 
torn straight from unpublished history. The variety 
and vividness of the types, the expressiveness of the 
scene, without a touch of exaggeration or grimace, the 
dismal chill of the weather, the sense of possible bullets 
in the air, the full man size of the little figures, the 
clean, consummate brilliancy of the painting, make it 
a work of which nothing but good is to be said. 

The picture which will appeal most strongly to the 
inner circle of observers those who enjoy a first-class 
method more than an entertaining story is unques- 
tionably the much-noticed, the already famous "In- 
terieur d' Atelier" of M. Munkacsy. It divides with 


Art in France 

one other work, to my sense, the claim of being the 
most masterly piece of painting in the Salon. The other 
work is a portrait, of which I will presently speak. 
Meanwhile M. Munkacsy, who is a Hungarian, with 
a Parisian reputation already established, comes so 
near the absolute of solid and superb painting that it 
little matters how we settle the question of pre-emi- 
nence. I do not know when I have seen a piece of artistic 
work of any kind which struck me as having so purely 
masculine a quality. M, Munkacsy's painting is strong 
as a rich baritone voice is strong in the same personal 
and closely characteristic way. Imagine the baritone 
voice admirably educated and master of every secret 
and mystery of vocalism, and the analogy is complete. 
M. Munkacsy belongs to the school of painters for 
whom a "subject" is simply any handsome object what- 
soever anything materially paintable. He does not 
resort to history or mythology for his themes, and it 
doubtless seems as absurd to him that you should have 
to look at a picture with one eye on a literary para- 
graph in a catalogue, as that you should listen to a 
song with one ear applied to a tube into which a spoken 
explanation should be injected. His subject here is 
simply a handsome woman in a blue velvet dress sit- 
ting in profile before an easel on which stands a small 
landscape, and of a man (the painter himself) loung- 
ing against a table between her and the easel. The lady 
is bent forward, her hands are pressed together in her 
lap, she is looking intently and appreciatively before 
her; the artist, who is in light drab garments, presents 


Parisian Sketches 

his full face, but turns it slightly askance, and eyes his 
work more critically. There is nothing here very new 
and strange, and yet the picture is admirably full and 
rich. It is composed in what I believe painters call an 
extremely low key it is an extraordinary harmony of 
the deepest tones, unrelieved by a touch of light color 
or by more than a gleam of high light. And yet in spite 
of the sort of unctuous brown cavern of which the 
studio seems at first to consist, you presently perceive 
that there is nothing cheap or brutal in the artist's 
dusky accumulations of color, that everything is de- 
fined, harmonized, and made to play a part. The paint- 
ing has incomparable breadth and freedom, and yet all 
its rich, bold brush work has been admirably wrought, 
and, as it were, melted together. There are almost no 
sensible lines anywhere, and yet there is no sensible 
evasion of line; it is rare to see a picture in which 
draughtmanship is so enveloped and muffled in color. 
There is plenty of detail, and yet it is all detail in such 
warm, fluid juxtaposition that you are conscious of it 
only through your general impression of richness. The 
heads are admirable full of solidity and relief; the 
only complaint to be made of them is that they are 
painted too much in the same tone and on the same 
level as the inanimate parts of the picture. A little 
more rosiness, a little infusion of light, would not have 
spoiled them. The blue velvet dress of the lady is, how- 
ever, the great triumph. It is one of the most interest- 
ing pieces of frippery that I have seen in many a day, 
and the way it is painted is a sort of resume of the 


Art m France 

manner of the whole picture. It is the work of a man 
who stands completely outside of it and its superficial 
appeals, and has, regarding its texture and tone, a 
vision, a judgment, and a conviction of his own. This 
second solution, as the apothecaries say, of blue velvet 
a trifle faded and worn, has a peculiar charm. I meant 
to add a word about the magnificent portrait of M. 
Wallon, the late Minister of Public Instruction, by 
M. Bastien-Lepage the gem, to my mind, of the ex- 
hibition. But I shall be obliged, with your permission, 
to devote another letter to the Salon, and I defer my 
remarks. I shall not be sorry, on the ground of not 
having yet committed myself to utterance about it, to 
go and look at the picture again. 

May 27, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 






PARIS, May 6. In my last letter I gave but an in- 
complete account of the Salon. I was obliged to leave 
some of the most interesting works unmentioned. 1 
Among these is the portrait of M. Wallon, the late 
Minister of Public Instruction, by M. Bastien-Lepage, 
certainly the best portrait in the exhibition, and in a 
certain sense the most perfect work. It is rather dry 
and literal, it lacks freedom and style, but it is a mas- 
terly piece of painting, and it possesses, if not a high, 
at least a very solid interest. It represents an old man 
of a sedentary, scholarly complexion, with a bald, re- 
treating forehead the forehead retreats admirably 
a pair of clear, pale blue eyes, and a face puckered 
and kneaded and softly bruised, as it were, by Time. 

146 - 

Art m Paris 

The modeling of the face, the minute detail of the 
complexion, the distinct yet subdued relief of the nose, 
the vaguely chafed and frost-nipped tones about the 
mouth all this is admirable. It is patient, analytic, 
unimaginative painting, but the result is a remarkable 
expression of reality a reality which, in the face, 
vividly recalls Holbein. Holbein, however, would have 
given his subject a better body than M. Bastien-Le- 
page has done. There are no ribs or limbs beneath the 
black coat and trousers which indicate the figure, the 
painter's skill in modeling seeming to have exhausted 
itself in the face. It revives, indeed, briefly in the hands, 
which are placed flatly, with strictly historic awkward- 
ness, on each of the knees, and are admirable in their 
mottled, elderly plumpness. On the whole, it is a very 
fine portrait in a secondary manner which I think is 
better than being a second-rate work in a grand man- 
ner. If the merit of a work of art is to be measured 
by the completeness with which it executes what it at- 
tempts, this performance of M. Bastien-Lepage de- 
serves a very honorable mention. I may as well speak 
at once of the other portraits or of such of them as 
are worth being commemorated. The number, of course 3 
is enormous, and the cumulative effects of so many ex- 
pansive effigies, in elaborated .toilets, or in still more 
elaborate dishabille, each addressing its own peculiar 
simper to the promiscuous throng that tramps through 
the exhibition, is no less irritating than usual. The 
level of clearness, so high in all French painting, 
strikes me as rather lower in the line of portraiture 


Parisian Sketches 

than elsewhere; nevertheless there is plenty of the 
cleverness to which it is not necessary to allude. M. 
Carolus-Duran, the fashionable portrait painter par 
excellence, represents M. fimile de Girardin composing 
an editorial at a writing table, and a lady in a white 
ball dress coining downstairs, with her hand on the 
balustrade. Both pictures are below his reputation. M. 
de Girardin's pale face appears to have been "enam- 
eled" for the occasion ; it is suffused with a vulgar and 
unnatural bloom. His hands, which are apparently 
handsome (after the plump French model) , are, how- 
ever, rather skillfully painted. The lady on the stairs 
is a decided failure; her bare arm, following the line 
of the balustrade, takes two or three twists and turns 
too many, and her satin-shod foot, seeking the lower 
step, gropes downward like that of a blind person. Add 
to this that the lady is holding up her head with an 
air which seems to proclaim that if there are two things 
in which, more than in others, she takes a pardonable 
satisfaction, they are her arm and her foot. There is 
a charming portrait by M. Baudry of a tall, slim, de- 
lightfully lady-like person, seated and looking at the 
world over the back of a gilded chair; and there is a 
representation by M. Cabanel of a young lady of great 
natural advantages snowy arms and shoulders, and 
vividly auburn tresses standing very bravely up to 
display them. 

There are pink-fingered chiffonne young women by 
Chaplin, whom one can scarcely approach for their 
admirers, and who look as if they had been painted 

148 - 

Art in Paris 

with a compound of distilled rose leaves and dewdrops. 
It is a very light painting, certainly ; but a great deal 
of talent has gone to making it light. The talent, how- 
ever, had better have gone elsewhere. There are two 
agreeable, and for a woman sufficiently solid, portraits 
by Mile. Jacquemart, who sprang into fame a few years 
since with a remarkable portrait of M. Thiers. But her 
present work would not have made her famous, and 
will hardly even keep her so. She had the misfortune 
to make a hit, and she is now paying, in relative ob- 
scurity, the penalty. One of the most interesting por- 
traits in the Salon is that of the great Russian novelist, 
Tourgueneff, by a young Russian artist of high prom- 
ise, M. Harlamoff, who attracted notice last year by 
a remarkable portrait of Mme. Pauline Viardot. Half 
the interest of M. Harlamoflf's picture, this year as 
well, is in the admirable physiognomy of the model, 
which would have offered a sovereign resistance to triv- 
ial treatment; but it is also a very robust and bril- 
liantly simple piece of painting. M. Tourgueneff, clad 
in a brown velvet coat, sits with his hands in his lap, 
presenting his full face, which is pervaded by an air 
of intense and sinister revery. This expression is power- 
fully rendered, but it has the great fault of not being 
that of the least irritable of men of genius. A work 
which has at the least its share of gazers is a huge rep- 
resentation, by M. Clairin, of Mile, Sarah Bernhardt, 
the bright particular star of the Comedie Fran$aise. 
Considering the very small space which this young 
lady takes up in nature her thinness is quite phe- 

- 149 - 

Parisian Sketches 

nomenal she occupies a very large one at the Salon. 
M. Clairin's portrait is vast and superficially brilliant, 
but really, I think, not above mediocrity. There is a 
remarkable white satin wrapper, in which the actress, 
who is lolling on a sort of oriental divan, is twisted and 
entangled with something of her peculiar snake-like 
grace, and which shines from afar ; and there are dra- 
peries and plants and rugs, and a great deerhound. The 
only thing wanting is Mile. Bernhardt herself. She is 
wanting even more in her second portrait, by Mile. 
Louise Abbema, in which she is standing, in a black 
walking dress ; and in this almost equally large work 
there are no accessories, good or bad, to make up for 
the deficiency. 

M. Bonnat, whose superb portrait of Mme. Pasca in 
the last Salon was the picture of the year, has added 
nothing to his reputation by his present performance 
a large "Jacob wrestling 1 with the Angel." Two 
naked athletes, in a sort of flesh-colored cave, are inter- 
locking their arms and legs and clinching their teeth ; 
but neither of them is moving an inch which indeed 
is quite natural, as they are composed, to all appear- 
ance, of rose-colored granite. The picture contains some 
very vigorous drawing, but little painting and no in- 
terest. It is a powerful but almost unredeemed failure. 
If M. Bonnat, from whom much was expected, has 
given two poor figures, M. Vollon, from whom nothing 
was expected, has produced a magnificent one. M. Vol- 
lon has been hitherto an admired painter of landscape 
and natures morte*, but until this year he had not given 


Art m Paris 

his full measure. His "Fishwife of Dieppe 55 is one of 
the finest things in the Salon, and all the finer for 
having a certain generous amateurishness of manner. 
One sees that M. Vollon's figure is half experimental; 
but this only augments the pleasure of seeing it so suc- 
cessful. A tall, bare-legged peasant woman, in a dusky 
white cap, a tattered kilt, and a chemise so ragged that 
it exposes completely her strong brown shoulders and 
bosom, is moving across the shore with long steps and 
with an empty fishing basket hung on her back. The 
picture is hardly more than a sketch; it has no bril- 
liancy of color, and the background is a mere indica- 
tion ; but the character of the picture is at once so true 
and so noble, the action is so free, the poise of the head, 
the swing of the legs, the lightness of the step are so 
happily seized, and yet in so just and delicate a meas- 
ure idealized, that the whole expression is strikingly 
grand. The body is admirably painted; the legs are 
animated human limbs. M. Vollon, after this, I sup- 
pose, will not hide his light under a bushel. Among the 
French painters best known in America, M. Gerome is, 
as usual, conspicuous for his cleverness. He exhibits a 

small picture of a "Santon at the door of a Mosque" 

a characteristically hard and brilliant piece of oriental- 
ism. A great square-shouldered dervish, with his filthy 
body all but entirely naked, his head shaved, and his 
huge mouth contorted with pious vociferation, is ap- 
parently keeping guard over a congregation of shoes 
which the ingoing worshipers have deposited on the 
threshold of a Mussulman temple. It was for these 


Parisian Sketches 

shoes, I suspect, that the picture was painted, and as 
they are treated they are quite worth it. They are of 
all sizes, colors, and shapes, and full of ingenious ex- 
pression. They make a very picturesque, an almost dra- 
matic array. M. Cabanel's second picture is the prop- 
erty, I see by the catalogue, of a lady of New York. It 
represents the spouse of the Song of Solomon, sitting 
cross-legged on the ground and gazing upward, in a 
mystical languor of love, divine or profane, as one may 
choose. She is a very handsome Jewess; her eyes are 
long, her flesh transparent, and her draperies very ele- 
gant. Apropos of transparent flesh, the inexhaustible 
M. Bouguereau exhibits two pictures characterized by 
all his extraordinary skill and his abuse of tones and 
glossy surfaces. It is a standing wonder that a man 
can paint at once so finely and so perversely. The larger 
of M. Bouguereau's pictures, a Piete of many figures, 
contains passages of drawing and even of painting 
which many an artist would be glad to sign with his 
name who would yet be quite ashamed to stand respon- 
sible for the thin, manufactured interest and the china- 
plate aspect of the whole. A few years ago M. Gustave 
Moreau made a series of brilliant appearances at the 
Salon as the apostle of a new and strange treatment of 
mythological subjects. His mythology and his strange- 
ness remain, but his novelty and his renown have some- 
what waned. He is ingenious, erudite, and highly imag- 
inative; if M. Gustave Flaubert, the eminent novelist, 
when he wrote his Temptation of St. Anthony, had been 
disposed to painting instead of writing, he would prob- 


Art m Paris 

ably have gone to work in M. Moreau's fashion. M. 
Moreau, with his "Hercules and the Hydra of Lernos" 
and his "Salom," has produced two very rare and curi- 
ous works ; he is an original and interesting, if not a 
satisfactory colorist. But his performances enter com- 
pletely, to my sense, into the domain of the arbitrary 
and the fantastic, and I give up the attempt to follow 
him. Too much of the arbitrary in a picture is as un- 
comfortable as a little is indispensable. A painter who 
is greatly relished in America, where many of his pic- 
tures are owned, M. George Vibert, has two works, one 
of which I should have mentioned among the portraits. 
It represents, in emulation of M. Carolus-Duran, a 
lady descending a staircase but in a strictly possible 
position; her hands crossed in front of her, and her 
blue velvet dress and the train of her dress lying splen- 
didly up the steps behind her. It is very rich and agree- 
able. M. Vibert's second work deals with a theme of 
which he has made a specialty the carnal infirmities, 
humorously viewed, of monks and priests. In "L'Anti- 
chambre de Monseigneur," a rubicund friar, waiting 
for an audience with the Bishop, is making himself 
agreeable to a pretty young country woman who is 
seated beside him on a satin sofa, while another friar, 
ostensibly reading his breviary, peeps round the corner 
of a recess, over his shoulder, to see what his companion 
is, in vulgar phrase, "up to." It is very clever storytell- 
ing and very pretty painting. I have said nothing of 
the landscapists, but it is not because they are not 


Parisian Sketches 

numerous. I am exhausting my space. Besides, land- 
scapes suffer at crowded exhibitions more than figure 
pieces; their want of isolation is more fatal to them, 
and a great effort is required to judge them as they 
are meant to be judged on the artist's easel or the 
owner's favoring wall. Daubigny has two large per- 
formances which, although vigorous and expressive, 
have rather less even than usual of this powerful sketch- 
er's moderate amount of charm. M. Daubigny is rather 
brutal. Not so M. Franfais not enough so perhaps. 
There is always a touch of the historic, academic, ar- 
ranged landscape in M. Franfais' pictures, but there is 
plenty of genuine nature too, and the combination is 
often admirable. This is the case this year. In the way 
of landscape the things I have most enjoyed are two 
low, long pictures by an admirable Polish artist M. 
Chelmonsld by name ; a couple of winter scenes in Rus- 
sia. One of them, the "Thaw in Ukraine," is a thor- 
ough masterpiece. A rickety sleigh has stopped at a 
village ale house, and its four horses, harnessed abreast, 
are steaming, fetlock deep, in the yellow slush of the 
highway. At the door are gathered a dozen figures, ad- 
mirably real and admirably Russian; the inimitable 
samovar the national tea urn is deposited in the 
midst of them, in the filthy snow. The truth and vigor 
of this little scene are masterly the black, panting, 
sweating horses, the rising dampness, the snow-charged 
sky, the high-thatched, smoke-swept roof of the hut, 
the extreme variety and vivacity of the figures. M. 
Chelmonski, if I am not mistaken, has been an admiring 


Art m Paris 

observer of that most delightful of Dutch painters, 
Salomon Ruysdael. I must add briefly that a number of 
American artists are represented at the Salon among 
them being Messrs. May, Bacon, Edgar Ward, and 
Bridgman. Most of the contributions of these gentle- 
men are agreeable and entertaining the most notice- 
able, perhaps, being Mr. Bacon's "Franklin at Home 
at Philadelphia." 

The ground floor at the Palais de PIndustrie is con- 
verted by the Salon into a garden, reasonably blooming 
under the circumstances, and dotted with the contribu- 
tions of sculpture. As usual, these are numerous, but 
everything this year is cast into the shade by the two fig- 
ures of M. Paul Dubois portions of a monument about 
to be erected to Gen. Lamoriciere at Nantes. These 
two figures are of surpassing beauty, and altogether 
the most eminent works in the Salon. (M. Dubois is 
generally known by his charming "Florentine Singer," 
in bronze, now in the Museum of the Luxembourg.) I 
have left myself no space to speak of these images of 
"Charity" and "Military Courage"; I must content 
myself with recording briefly but emphatically my ad- 
miration for them. They are not only better in degree 
than any other work of art of the year; they are quite 
unique in kind. They are interesting and touched 
strongly with ideal beauty; they do the artist the 
greatest honor. Not to be utterly incomplete I must 
say that Mile. Sarah Bernhardt, the actress, has a 
huge group of an old peasant woman holding in her 
lap, in a frenzied posture, the body of her drowned 


Parisian Sketches 

grandson. The thing is extremely amateurish, but it is 
surprisingly good for a young lady whom the public 
knows to draw upon her artistic ingenuity for so many 
other purposes. 

June 5, 1876 




Letter -from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, May 27. M. Ernest Renan has just pub- 
lished a new volume, 1 which will not fail to find its way 
speedily into the hands of all lovers of good writing. 
A new volume by Renan is an intellectual feast ; if he 
is not the first of French writers, I don't know who 
may claim the title. In these Dialogues et Fragments 
PTiHosophiques, indeed, it is the dialogues alone that 
are new; they occupy but half of the volume, the rest 
of which is composed of reprinted pieces. The dialogues 
are a sort of jeu d'esprit, but a jeu d : 'esprit of a very 
superior kind the recreation of a man of elevated 
genius. They are prefaced by a few pages breathing a 
very devoted patriotism, and proving that the author's 
exorbitant intellectual reveries have not relaxed his 
sense of the plain duties of citizenship. To win back 


Parisian Sketches 

that esteem which he appears willing to concede that 
they have in some degree forfeited, he exhorts his fellow 
countrymen above all things to work. Let each, he says, 
surpass himself in his own particular profession, "so 
that the world may still cry of us, 'These Frenchmen 
are still the sons of their fathers; eighty years ago 
Condorcet, in the midst of the Reign of Terror, wait- 
ing for death in his hiding place in the Rue Servandoni, 
wrote his Sketch of the Progress of the Human Mind. 9 ** 
M. Renan imagines a group of friends, who assemble 
in a quiet corner of a park of Versailles, to exchange 
reflections upon the "ensemble de PUnivers." The sub- 
ject is extensive, and it may well take half a dozen 
talkers to cover the ground. Three persons, however, 
take the lead, each one of whom unfolds his particular 
view of the cosmos. These three views are classed by 
M. Renan under the respective heads of "Certainties," 
"Probabilities," and "Reveries." He disclaims them all 
as a representation of his own opinions, and says that 
he has simply entertained himself with imagining what 
might be urged and argued in each direction. It is 
probable, however, that if his convictions and feelings 
are not identical with those of either of his interlocu- 
tors, they have a great deal in common with the whole 
mass of the discussion, and that Philalethes, Theophras- 
tus, and Theoctistes are but names for certain moods 
of M. Renan's mind. If so, one can only congratulate 
him upon the extraordinary ingenuity and fertility of 
his intellect and the entertaining company of his 
thoughts. These pages are full of good things admira- 


Parisian Topics 

bly said, of brilliant and exquisite suggestions, and of 
happy contributions to human wisdom. Their fault is 
the fault which for some time has been increasing in 
M. Kenan's writing a sort of intellectual foppishness, 
a love of paradox and of distinction for distinction's 
sake. His great merit has always been his natural dis- 
tinction, but now, in this same distinction, in the af- 
fectation of views which are nothing if not exquisite, 
views sifted and filtered through an infinite intellectual 
experience, there is something rather self-conscious and 
artificial. The reader cannot help wishing that M. 
Kenan might be brought into more immediate contact 
with general life itself general life as distinguished 
from that horizon of pure learning which surrounds the 
cabinet de travail of a Parisian scholar suspecting 
that, if this could happen, some of his fine-spun doubts 
and perplexities would find a very natural solution, and 
some of his fallacies die a very natural death. 

Philalethes, the exponent of M. Kenan's "Certain- 
ties," is not so certain about some things as his friends 
might have expected; but his skepticism is narrowed 
down to a point just fine enough to be graceful. "In 
fact," he says, "if I had been a priest, I should never 
have been willing to accept a fee for my mass ; I should 
have been afraid of doing as the shopkeeper who de- 
livers for money an empty bag. Just so I should have 
had a scruple about drawing a profit from my religious 
beliefs. I should have been afraid of seeming to distrib- 
ute false notes and to prevent poor people, by putting 
them off with dubious hopes, from claiming their por- 


Parisian Sketches 

tion in this world. These things are substantial enough 
for us to talk about them, to live by them, to think of 
them always ; but they are not certain enough to en- 
able us to be sure that in pretending to teach them we 
are not mistaken as to the quality of the goods deliv- 
ered." Theophrastus, who discourses on "Probabili- 
ties," takes, on the whole, a cheerful view of the future 
it must be confessed with considerable abatements. 
He agrees probably in a great measure with Theoc- 
tistes, who remarks, "I have never said that the future 
was cheerful. Who knows whether the truth is not 
sad?" Theophrastus thinks that the maturity of the 
world is to arrive by the expansion of science on con- 
dition, indeed, that the mechanical theory of heat suc- 
ceeds within five or six hundred years in inventing a 
substitute for coal. If it fails and the failure is quite 
probable "humanity will enter into a sort of medi- 
ocrity from which she will hardly have the means to 
emerge." It must be added that Theophrastus is pre- 
pared to see art and beauty (as we have hitherto un- 
derstood them) disappear ; "the day will perhaps come 
(we already see its dawn) when a great artist, a vir- 
tuous man, will be antiquated, almost useless things." 
The speculations of Theoctistes, however, are much 
the most curious. He imagines a development of science 
so infinite and immeasurable that it will extend our re- 
lations beyond the limits of the planet on which we 
dwell, and he deems the function of this perfected ma- 
chine to be above all the production of great men. The 
great men may be so selected and sifted and improved 


Parisian Topics 

that human perfection may at last concentrate itself in 
one extremely superior being, who will hold all the 
universe in cheerful and grateful subordination. This 
is what Theoctistes calls "God being realized." With 
these sentiments it is not surprising that he should not 
expect that God will be realized by a democracy. He 
gets into deeper water than he can always buffet, but 
his style is the perfection of expression. I must quote 
a few lines more. "For myself, I relish the universe 
through that sort of general sentiment to which we 
owe it that we are sad in a sad city, gay in a gay city. 
I enjoy thus the pleasures of those given up to pleasure, 
the debauchery of the debauchee, the worldliness of the 
worldling, the holiness of the virtuous man, the medi- 
tations of the savant, the austerity of the ascetic. By 
a sort of sweet sympathy I imagine to myself that I 
am their consciousness. The discoveries of the savant 
are my property; the triumphs of the ambitious are 
my festival. I should be sorry that anything should he 
missing in this world, for I have the consciousness of 
all that it contains. My only displeasure is that the 
age has fallen so low that it no longer knows how to 
enjoy. Then I take refuge in the past in the six- 
teenth century, in the seventeenth, in antiquity ; every- 
thing that has been beautiful, amiable, noble, just, 
makes a sort of paradise for me. With this I defy mis- 
fortune to touch me; I carry with me the charming 
garden of the variety of my thoughts. 33 This paragraph 
seems to me magnificent ; one would like to have written 
it. The charm of M. Kenan's style is hard to define ; it 

161 - 

Parisian Sketches 

is ethereal as a perfume. It is a style above all things 
urbane, and, with its exquisite form, is suggestive of 
moral graces, amenity, delicacy, generosity. Now that 
Sainte-Beuve is dead, it strikes me as the most perfect 
vehicle of expression actually in operation in Prance. 
The only style to be compared to it is that of Mme. 
Sand; but for pure quality even this must yield the 
palm. Mme. Sand's style is, after all (with all respect) , 
a woman's style. 

The much expected funeral of Michelet, 2 which took 
place ten days ago, may not, I suppose, be spoken of as 
an event of the hour; inasmuch as it conspicuously 
turned out not to be an event. To keep it from being 
an event was the earnest desire of Mme. Michelet and 
her friends, and it was feared that the large body of 
injudicious persons always on the lookout for chances 
to "manifest," radically, would take conflicting views, 
and that the highly unbecoming scenes which accom- 
panied the recent interment of Mme. Louis Blanc an 
Englishwoman and a Protestant would be repeated. 
Mme. Michelet desired a secular, but not a political 
funeral. It may be remembered that she had just con- 
cluded, victoriously, a prolonged, painful and awkward 
contest with her husband's family touching the posses- 
sion of his remains. They were finally adjudged to her, 
and she repaired to Cannes (where Michelet died, and 
where his relatives desired him to be buried) to bring 
them to Paris and consign them honorably to the soil 
in which there was an impressive fitness in their re- 
posing. An immense concourse of people followed the 


Parisian Topics 

body to the grave, but there was perfect order and no 
manifestation. Good taste, doubtless, for many excel- 
lent reasons, is not always a "radical" virtue; but on 
this occasion it was not wanting. It characterized espe- 
cially the very eloquent address made at the grave by 
M. Challemel-Lacour, 3 who as speaker had long since 
won his spurs in the Assembly. His eulogy of Michelet 
was a very happy combination of passion and reason. 
Quietly as it was effected, however, the transfer to Paris 
of the great historian's remains has made Michelet 
again one of the subjects of the day, and the critics 
are revising and summing up their judgments of him. 
The Revue des Deux Mondes has just begun the pub- 
lication of an extended essay on the subject by young 
M. d'Haussonville,* the author of the series of clever 
and somewhat perfidious papers upon Sainte-Beuve 
which appeared more than a year ago in the same pages. 
He will apparently treat Michelet more sympatheti- 
cally and it is rather odd he should, considering his 
highly conservative affiliations (M. d'Haussonville is 
nephew of the Duke de Broglie, and great-grandson of 
Mme. de Stael, 5 who certainly, if she were now living, 
would not be a Republican), In talking of Sainte- 
Beuve he made a very handsome show of generosity, 
but in turning the page one always found that he took 
back with one hand what he had given with the other* 
His account of Michelet's early life is extremely inter- 
esting; the great historian was a child of the people,, 
in the narrowest sense of the term. His father was a. 
small, struggling, unsuccessful printer, and Michelet's 


Parisian Sketches 

early years were spent in a damp cellar, setting up 
types with his little chapped hands. His whole youth 
was a time of poverty and hard obstruction, and on 
this point M. d'Haussonville quotes a few lines from a 
retrospect of Michelet which are well worth repeating : 
"I remember that this consummate misfortune, priva- 
tions in the present, fears for the future, the enemy be- 
ing but two steps off (1814) 5 and my own personal 
enemies making daily sport of me, one day one Thurs- 
day morning, I turned back upon myself without fire, 
with the snow covering everything, and my bread for 
the evening uncertain I turned back upon myself, 
and without the least mixture of religious hope, had a 
pure feeling of stoicism; I struck with my hand, split 
open by the cold, upon my oaken table (which I have 
kept ever since), and felt a virile joy in my youth and 
my future." 

In comparison with Michelet's early struggles to 
climb the ladder of knowledge, it may seem that such a 
career as that of Mme. Plessy, who has just bidden 
farewell to the stage at the Theatre Franfais, offers 
but a trivial interest, but certainly nothing that is 
thoroughly well done has been easily done, and I am 
sure that the extraordinary perfection of Mme. Plessy's 
art was the fruit of a great deal of labor. Her last 
appearance the other night was a very brilliant solem- 
nity. She acted portions of three or four of her most 
successful parts, and in conclusion, with the whole 
company of the Comedie Franfaise gathered about her, 
she declaimed some very good verses by M. Sully-Pru- 


Parisian Topics 

dhomme. 6 She is a really irreparable loss to the stage, 
which in spite of her advanced age she might for some 
time have continued to adorn. Her age was not seri- 
ously perceptible ; she is fif ty-seven years old and had be- 
longed to the Theatre Franyais from her fifteenth year. 
In 1845 she seceded, without ceremony, and repaired to 
Russia, where she enjoyed fame and fortune for some 
ten years. In 1855 she returned to the Comedie Fran- 
faise, quite une prmcesse, making her own terms and 
paying none of the fines and penalties to which she had 
been legally condemned. Since then, from year to year, 
her talent has been growing richer and more perfect, 
and it has now a blooming maturity which might long 
bid defiance to time. The especially regrettable point 
is that her place will probably never be filled, for she 
was the last depositary of certain traditions which can 
never, in the nature of things, be renewed. She was the 
perfect great lady of high comedy, as high comedy 
was possible before the invention of slang. She repre- 
sented certain instincts and practices which have passed 
out of manners. The other night, as she finished her 
verses, she took Miles. Sarah Bernhardt and Croizette 
by the hands, and, with admirable grace, presented 
them to the public as her substitutes. It is more than 
likely that she had measured the irony of her gesture ; 
for from the moment it takes two actresses to make up 
a Mme. Plessy, the cause is obviously lost. Clever as 
those young ladies are, they will not fill the void. Their 
art is small art; Mme. Plessy ? s was great art. 

There are more exhibitions, but these also are small 


Parisian Sketches 

art. The customary congregation of the "Refuses" 7 of 
the Salon has gathered itself at Durand-Ruel's ; but I 
think it can have inflicted no twinges of conscience 
upon the jury of admission. It is a melancholy collec- 
tion of what are called in Parisian phrase croHtes 
crusts. It occasionally happens, among the "Refuses," 
that the verdict of the public helps a young painter to 
his revenge upon the stony-hearted Cerberi of the 
Salon; but this year the most sentimental admirer of 
lost causes can find no pretext for enthusiasm. The 
best things, by far, are a couple of native landscapes 
by an American Mr. J. Fairman. 8 (There is no harm 
in printing his name, as it is in the catalogue and on 
the frames of his pictures.) They are clever, but I un- 
derstand very well why a French jury should have re- 
fused them. More interesting was the exhibition of 
architectural projects for the Exhibition of 1878, 
which was lately open for a few days at the Ecole des 
Beaux Arts. Architectural drawings, to the uninitiated, 
are so much darkness visible ; but the two or three main 
conditions of the Exhibition are such as to help one to 
infuse a certain picturesqueness into the diagrams. The 
buildings are to stand on the Champ de Mars, as be- 
fore, but there is now to be a great structure thrown 
across the Seine, with the Pont d'lena for its founda- 
tion, and the opposite hill of the Trocadero is to be 
covered with the dependencies of the show. It will be a 
chance for the French genius for complex arrangement 
to surpass itself. The architects and economists wish 
greatly, I believe, that the Exhibition were to take 

Parisian Topics 

place three or four years later, and so, from the bot- 
tom of their hearts, do all quiet Parisians, native or 
adoptive. The only people who are in a hurry are the 
restaurateurs and the cab drivers. 

June IT, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, June 9. To people who are fond of good 
letters I recommend those of the late M. Doudan, 1 
which have just been published by the Comte d'Haus- 
sonville, one of his principal correspondents. Good let- 
ters are the most entertaining reading (to my sense) 
in the world, and in these two (it must be confessed 
rather formidably massive) volumes this branch of lit- 
erature, so exceptionally rich in France, has received 
a delightful accession. M. Doudan was not known to 
fame, and his letters will not make him famous, inas- 
much as their interest is of a very tranquil order and 
their charm of a sort to be appreciated only by people 
of delicate taste, who are always in the minority. But 
they are very exquisite and they testify eloquently to 
the culture, the intelligence, and the intellectual good 


Parisian Topics 

manners of the circle of which their author was a mem- 
ber, and of which they form, as it were, simply the 
written conversations. M. Doudan was one of those 
men (everyone has known a specimen) whose friends 
speak of them and their powers in superlative terms, 
but whom, as there is little to show for these same pow- 
ers, the outside world must take on trust the men of 
whom, to the end of their days, it is said that they 
might do great things if they only would. They pass 
away without having done anything, and the brutal 
world shrugs its shoulders and observes that when peo- 
ple can do something, they manage sooner or later to 
do it, and that if a man stands all his life on the brink 
of the stream it is safe to conclude that he does not 
know how to swim. Sainte-Beuve somewhere speaks of 
M. Doudan as one of the "supremes delicats" whose 
ideal is placed so high that they give up ever trying 
to reach it. A great many clever men doubtless belong 
in this category, as well as a great many charlatans ; 
but we must not forget the homely proverb which says 
that to make an omelet you must break your eggs. To 
write a good book one must hang one's ideal on a peg 
where one can reach it. M. Doudan passed the greater 
part of his life in the family of Broglie, to which he 
had been introduced through being engaged as pre- 
ceptor to young M. de Rocca, the son of Mme. de Stael 
by her second marriage. He was an intimate friend of 
the Duchess de Broglie, the daughter of Mme. de Stael ; 
I believe that this lady was a saint, and that the inti- 
macy was observed to go as far as an intimacy between 


Parisian Sketches 

a saint and an agreeable man may go. His correspond- 
ents in these volumes are chiefly her children and her 
son-in-law, M. d'Haussonville. The letters range from 
the year 1827 to the year 1872, the period of the au- 
thor's death ; many of them, year after year, are dated 
from that charming chateau of Coppet, on the Lake of 
Geneva, in which Mme. de Stael spent her years of 
exile, and to which her descendants have continued to 
resort. M. Doudan was pre-eminently a literary man ; 
literature was his passion, and two thirds of his allusions 
in these volumes are to books ; but he wrote very little 
and published less the editor informing us that even 
his magnum opus, a brief and extremely condensed 
treatise on the art of style and the principles of literary 
composition, which he had spent a great deal of time 
in polishing and perfecting, never left his portfolio. I 
believe, however, that it is now to be given to the world. 
I don't know what M. Doudan's theories were, but his 
practice is admirable. His own style is charming and 
the amount of excellent, of exquisite writing buried in 
these essentially familiar letters may excite the surprise 
of a generation whose epistolary manner threatens to 
savor more and more of the telegram and the postal 
card. There are letters and letters ; those of M. Doudan 
are decidedly "old-fashioned," but they are not in the 
least ponderous. They are not formal dissertations on 
the one hand, nor on the other are they marked by the 
desperate vivacity of many of those social scribes who 
know that their letters are to be read aloud and handed 
about. They touch upon everything events of the day, 


Parisian Topics 

people, books, abstract questions; some readers will 
perhaps complain that they contain too little gossip, 
and absolutely no scandal. They have a great deal of 
humor, pitched in the minor key ; it is never quite ab- 
sent, but it never rises to the height (or sinks to the 
depth) of the comic. I had marked a great many pas- 
sages for quotation, but I must use the privilege scant- 
ily. Every now and then there is something excellently 
said as when, speaking of foreign literatures, and de- 
claring that one never really enters into them, or cares 
to enter into them, as the natives do, that they have 
always a strangeness for us, M. Doudan affirms that 
"at bottom there are only two things that really please 
us, the ideal or our own likeness." Excellent, too, is this 
about Rousseau: "I am not surprised that he has dis- 
pleased you. There is nothing sadder to see than this 
lively imagination, with its strength and severity, gov- 
erned by vulgar inclinations. He wished sincerely to live 
according to the ideal which he saw floating before him, 
but his nature rebelling too strongly, he squeezed into 
his ideal all the pitiable qualities of his personal na- 
ture, by conscience, by insanity, and also by a certain 
perversity." And St. Augustine, he adds (whom his 
correspondent appears also to have been reading), "his 
confessions make one think of everything. They are 
like a fine night of Africa, Great shadows, vast spaces, 
and the eternal stars." M. Doudan had, as a young 
man, paid a short visit to Italy, and his Italian mem- 
ories kept him company for life. His allusions to Ital- 
ian things are constant, and they have an almost pas- 


Parisian Sketches 

sionate tenderness. "A young Roman girl of the 
bourgeoisie has her confessor lodging behind St. 
Peter's, and in passing she thinks neither of the dome 
of St. Peter's, nor of the Egyptian obelisk, nor of the 
statues of Bernini, nor of the lions of Canova ; but all 
these things are mingled confusedly with her real life. 
She is a bright little flower on the walls of a great 
monument. The sun of Rome has given her her bright- 
ness, but she doesn't know it. An old English lady de- 
claims as she gazes on the Roman horizon, the cata- 
combs, and the pines of the Villa Pamfili ; and while the 
old English lady remains ugly and pale and declama- 
tory, the little Roman bourgeoise, who has never been 
so wise, grows up and becomes beautiful without think- 
ing of the Tarquins or the Gracchi. M. de Langsdorf ," 
he adds, "means soon to sail ; but for my part, fond as 
I am of nature, I shouldn't care to go into those un- 
settled parts of America. I would rather see Konigs- 
berg or Nuremberg, under their grey sky, than all 
those virgin forests which have never been looked at but 
by lumber dealers. I am like my old English lady of 
just now: I like to declaim over old times, but if today 
I could be eighteen years old and have been born in 
Rome, even in the Via Babuino, I would give up for- 
ever all present and future declamations. But you can't 
be eighteen for wishing it, and if ever I am eighteen 
again I shall stay so." A short time before the Roman 
revolution of 1848 he writes: "I lay my curse in ad- 
vance upon all Italians who are not of an extreme mod- 
eration in these hard days. But patience and modera- 


Parisian Topics 

tion are rare virtues. I don't know why they give the 
name of hero to those who mount a ladder under fire 
and plant a flag on a wall in the midst of balls. It's a 
matter of half an hour, after which you may go and lie 
down on a bed of laurels freshly cut. It is only those 
who have real patience and moderation who should be 
called heroes. Those are the great battles battles that 
last long. You have to lie for years on peach kernels, 
with doubt on your right hand and on your left the 
crowd, who informs you that you have no blood in your 
veins, and to ascertain it, wants every now and then to 
cut your throat." Lastly apropos of M. Kenan's bril- 
liant first literary performances: "The truth is he is 
like a young colt; he is fond of kicking up his heels. 
... A man must certainly have some vague ideas ; a 
clever man who has none but clear ones is a fool, who 
will never come to anything; but nevertheless there 
must be some solid bones to hold a living being together 
when he is not of the race of the snakes. I don't see M. 
Kenan's bones." M. Doudan's letters, in short, present 
an interesting image of a quiet, sensitive, fastidious 
man, living by preference on the shady side of life, pos- 
sessing the most delicate perceptions and tastes, as well 
as the most agreeable culture, but haunted by a melan- 
choly sense of his ineffectiveness. His gaiety is sub- 
dued ; there is a cast of autumnal haze in his sunshine. 
I may add that he appears to have been a voracious 
reader of English books, and to have had, in particu- 
lar, an insatiable appetite for British fiction. On this 
last point he was a flattering exception to his country- 

- 173 

Parisian Sketches 

men; most French people to whom I have spoken of 
English novels have made up a very wry face. 

Of what is going on in the lighter realms of Parisian 
activity there is no very brilliant account to give. Peo- 
ple are, of course, thinking and talking much of the 
dark clouds in the East, 2 but this cannot at the best 
be classed among "light" subjects. M. Waddington has 
just succeeded in putting through his bill restricting 
to the state the power of conferring university degrees 
a sensible defeat to the Catholic party. But neither 
is this a light theme. The fauteuil of M. Guizot at the 
Academy has just been taken possession of by his suc- 
cessor, M. Dumas, the distinguished chemist and physi- 
cist. 8 I am at a loss to perceive on what grounds M. 
Dumas has sought a place in a purely literary body; 
but in his discowrs de reception he paid a great many 
compliments to literature as well as to M. Guizot so 
many that stern science, I should think, would feel a 
trifle jilted. I sometimes feel inclined to exclaim, in em- 
ulation of Mme. Roland, "Oh, Academic Fran9aise, 
what crimes are committed in thy name !" There is noth- 
ing new of consequence at the theaters, and some of 
them are about to close. I should like, however, in so far 
as a strictly nonmusical auditor has a right to speak 
of such a matter, to say a good word for the brilliant 
short season of Italian opera which is just coming to 
an end at the Salle Ventadour. Verdi's Aida and the 
same master's lately composed Requiem * have been the 
only works performed, but they have been given with 
great perfection and proportionate success. The sing- 


Parisian Topics 

ers have been the great composer's own and peculiar 
quartet Mmes. Stoltz and Waldmann, and, as tenor 
and baritone, MM. Masini and Medini. I don't know 
when I have partaken of such a feast of vocalism. The 
voice of Mme. Stoltz is phenomenal ; it seems to belong 
to two persons. If you shut your eyes when she passes 
from one end of her register to the other you are ready 
to swear that a second singer has intervened. The liquid 
contralto of Mile. Waldmann is most enchanting, but 
the prize, to my sense, belongs to the admirable tenor 
of M. Masini, which seems to contain the very soul of 
youth and tenderness. It is deemed to be, I believe, a 
very vivid echo of Mario. It is the ideal voice of one's 
twentieth year ; if that time of life could always sing, it 
would sing just so. I will not profess to have enjoyed 
very profusely the somewhat obstreperous (from the 
Italian point of view exotic) music of A'ida, but I found 
the Requiem in places irresistibly moving the more so 
that Signor Verdi himself stood there, conducting the 
orchestra with a certain passionate manner. In the way 
of further gossip of this class, there has been the dis- 
tribution of the prizes at the Salon, and the bestowal 
of the medal of honor upon the two figures in sculp- 
ture of M. Paul Dubois, of which I lately made ap- 
preciative mention. Never was an honor better earned, 
and never can it have been adjudged with more un- 
grudging unanimity. I have it at heart to add that the 
two fantastic pictures of M. Gustave Moreau, to which 
I made but a cursory allusion, the "Hercules and the 
Hydra of Ternos" and the "Salome," have proved the 


Parisian Sketches 

lions of the Salon. I confess that, with myself, they 
have greatly improved on acquaintance. They are very 
remarkable, full of imagination, and if not of first-class 
power at least of first-class subtlety. 

Since I began my letter the news has come of a great 
loss to literature the death of George Sand. 5 She died 
in that rustic chateau of Nohant, in the old province of 
Berry, which she had so often and so picturesquely de- 
scribed. She had been painfully and alarmingly ill for 
a number of days, and the public was prepared for the 
event. It is the close of a very illustrious and very in- 
teresting career, of which I must defer speaking at 
length to my next writing. Mme. Sand is not, as was at 
first affirmed, to be buried at Paris, but at Nohant, to 
which (as I believe) somewhat inaccessible spot a nu- 
merous deputation from the literary world has piously 
repaired. It has been proposed, says the Figaro, to 
Alexandre Dumas to pronounce her funeral oration. I 
hope he will decline. Mme. Sand, admire her with what 
modification we will, deserves a better fate than to 
serve as a pretext for this gentleman's self-complacent 
epigrams. Mme. Sand was seventy-two years of age. 
She had of late lived almost exclusively in the country, 
and at the time of her death had not been to Paris for 
two winters. I have heard her this winter much spoken 
of by persons who knew her well, and always with great 
esteem. Her life had had many phases, but the longest 
was that of her old age, which was very tranquil and 
reasonable ; so much so as to efface the memory of cer- 
tain others which had preceded it, and which had been 


Parisian Topics 

of a more questionable cast. She had always been a 
singular mixture of quietude and turbulence. I am told 
that she was fearfully shy ; her books are certainly of 
all books the least shy. She had little conversation, and 
yet her books are singularly loquacious and confiden- 
tial. Her fertility was most extraordinary, and her ad- 
mirers will be anxious to learn whether it has not be- 
queathed some documents memoirs, reminiscences, or 
narratives more explicitly fictitious which are yet to 
see the light. 

July 1, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 




PARIS, June 28. The newspapers, for the last fort- 
night, have contained a certain number of anecdotes 
about Mme. Sand ; * but they have been generally of a 
rather trivial sort, and I have not gathered any that 
are worth repeating. Private life in France more for- 
tunate than among ourselves is still acknowledged to 
have some rights which the reporter and the interviewer 
are bound to respect. A Frenchman often makes sur- 
prising confidences to the public about himself, but as 
a rule he is not addicted to telling tales about his 
neighbor. Mme. Sand, in the memoirs which she pub- 
lished twenty years ago, lifted the veil from her per- 
sonality with a tolerably unshrinking hand (though to 
the admirers of what is called scandal she gave very 
little satisfaction) ; and yet for the last thirty years of 
her life, she was one of the most shade-loving and re- 


George Sand 

tiring of celebrities. Her life, indeed, was almost en- 
tirely in her books, and it is there that one must look 
for it. She was essentially a scribbler ; she wrote unceas- 
ingly from the publication of her first novel to the day 
of her death, and she had always been fond above all 
things of a quiet life, even during that portion of her 
career in which our Anglo-Saxon notions of "quiet- 
ness" are supposed to have been most effectively vio- 
lated. She was very intimate at one time with Alfred 
de Musset, and I have heard that this charming poet, 
by right of his membership in the genus irritabile, 
sometimes found it more than his nerves could endure 
to see the author of Consuelo sit down to her perpetual 
manuscript at the most critical hours of their some- 
what troubled friendship. But Mme. Sand wrote for 
her bread, and her remarkable power of imaginative 
abstraction must help to explain the very large amount 
of work that she achieved. She was also very intimate 
with Prosper Merimee, and I have been told that very 
early one cold winter morning he perceived her, with 
a handkerchief on her head, lighting the fire to resume 
her literary tasks. He also, it appears, had nerves ; the 
spectacle disturbed them he himself was not thinking 
of getting about his labors yet awhile and from that 
moment the intimacy ceased. Mme. Sand had spent a 
large portion of her life at Nohant, in the Berry, in 
the plain old country house which she described so 
charmingly in L'Histoire de Ma Vie, and for which 
and for its (I believe) rather meager setting of natural 
beauty she appears to have had a singularly intense 


Parisian Sketches 

affection. As she advanced in life, Nohant became more 
and more her home, and her visits to Paris were brief. 
Her house was very hospitable, and under her own roof 
she was never without society. She had worked very 
hard, and she had made no fortune; she still earned 
her income an income which at the bottom, as they 
say, of an old French province is still considered easy, 
but which in America, as in England, would not be 
thought in fair proportion to the writer's industry and 
eminence. Mme. Sand made, I believe, between six and 
seven thousand dollars a year. She was very silent, and 
had little assurance of manner. People who knew her 
well have told me that she looked a great deal on the 
ground, and seemed preoccupied ; that one felt shut off 
from her by a sort of veil or film. Occasionally this veil 
was lifted, she found her voice, and talked to very good 
purpose. This characterization corresponds with a 
phrase which one of her heroes, in I forget what novel, 
applies to one of her heroines the heroine being an 
idealized portrait of Mme. Sand herself. He calls her 
a sphmcc bon enfant "a good-natured sphinx." In 
spite of her advanced age she was seventy-two Mme. 
Sand's vigor had not failed at the time of the sudden 
illness which ended in her death. Her activity was great, 
and her faculties unimpaired. I saw a letter, the other 
day, written a few weeks before she died, in which she 
declared that her eyesight was better than when she 
was fifty, and that she went upstairs as fast as her dog. 
She was carried off by an acute attack of a malady 
which she had at first neglected. Her last audible 


George Sand 

words on her deathbed were characteristic of one who 
had loved nature passionately, and described it al- 
most incomparably "Laissez verdure." The allusion 
was apparently to some wild herbage in the corner of 
the village churchyard in which she expressed a wish 
to rest. In spite of her complete rupture, early in life, 
with Catholicism in spite of Spiridion, Mademoiselle 
La Qumtmie, and numberless other expressions of re- 
ligious independence Mme. Sand was buried from the 
little church of Nohant, and the cure performed the 
service. Her family had the good taste to ask permis- 
sion of the Bishop of Bourges, and the Bishop had the 
good taste to answer that if she had not positively re- 
fused the sacraments he saw no objection. What made 
it good taste in Mme. Sand's family (it was poor logic) 
was the fact that she was greatly beloved by the coun- 
try people, that she had been held in great esteem by 
the prior generation, that these people were numeri- 
cally her chief mourners, and that it would have per- 
plexed and grieved them not to see her buried in the 
only fashion of which they recognized the impressive- 
ness. Alexandre Dumas did not pronounce a funeral 
oration, though he was, with Prince Napoleon, one of 
the pallbearers. A short address by Victor Hugo was 
read he not being personally present. It had all of his 
latter-day magniloquence, but it contained no phrase 
so happy in its eloquence as one that I find in a letter 
from Ernest Renan, published in the Temps a few days 
after Mme. Sand's death. The last lines she had writ- 
ten were a short notice of M. Kenan's new book, the 


Parisian Sketches 

Dialogues Philosophiques. "I am touched to the bottom 
of my heart," he says, "to have been the last to pro- 
duce a vibration of that sonorous soul which was, as it 
were, the Aeolian harp of our time." Persons who have 
read Mme. Sand with a certain amount of sympathy 
will find it just, as well as fanciful, to call her soul 
"sonorous." It is an excellent description of her in- 
tellectual temperament. A few other fine lines in M. 
Kenan's letter are worth quoting: "Mme. Sand went 
through all visions, smiled at them all, believed in them 
all; her practical judgment may occasionally have gone 
astray, but as an artist she never deceived herself. Her 
works are truly the echo of our age. When this poor 
nineteenth century which we abuse so much is gone, it 
will be heard ancj eagerly looked into, and much one 
day will be forgiven it. George Sand then will rise up 
as our interpreter. The age has not had a wound with 
which her heart has not bled, not an ailment of which 
she has not harmoniously complained." I suspect that 
M. Renan has not perused any very great number of 
Mme. Sand's fictions, but this is none the less very 
finely said. 

I have been refreshing my memory of some of George 
Sand's earlier novels, which I confess I do not find as 
easy reading as I once did. But taking the later ones 
as well they are a very extraordinary and splendid 
series, and certainly one of the great literary achieve- 
ments of our time. Some people, I know, cannot read 
Mme. Sand; she has no illusion for them and but a 
moderate amount of charms; but I think such people 


George Sand 

are to be pitied they lose a great pleasure. She was 
an improvisatrice, raised to a very high power; she 
told stories as a nightingale sings. No novelist answers 
so well to the childish formula of "making up as you 
go along." Other novels seem meditated, pondered, 
calculated, thought out, and elaborated with a certain 
amount of trouble ; but the narrative with Mme. Sand 
always appears to be an invention of the moment, flow- 
ing from a mind which a constant process of quiet con- 
templation, absorption, and revery keeps abundantly 
supplied with material. It is a sort of general emana- 
tion, an intellectual evaporation. There had been plenty 
of improvisation before the author of Consuelo, but 
it had never been and it has never been in other hands 
of so fine a quality. She had a natural gift of style 
which is certainly one of the most remarkable of our 
day; her diction from the first was ripe and flexible, 
and seemed to have nothing to learn from practice. The 
literary form of her writing has always been exquisite ; 
and this alone would have sufficed to distinguish it 
from the work of the great body of clever scribblers 
who spin their two or three plots a year. Some of her 
novels are very inferior to others ; some of them show 
traces of weariness, of wandering attention, of a care- 
less choice of subject; but the manner, at the worst, 
never sinks below a certain high level the tradition 
of good writing is never lost. In this bright, voluminous 
envelope, it must be confessed that Mme. Sand has 
sometimes wrapped up a rather flimsy kernel ; some of 
her stories will not bear much thinking over. But her 

- 183 

Parisian Sketches 

great quality from the first was the multiplicity of her 
interests and the activity of her sympathies. She passed 
through a succession of phases, faiths, and doctrines 
political, religious, moral, social, personal and to each 
she gave a voice which the conviction of the moment 
made eloquent. She gave herself up to each as if it were 
to be final, and in every case she turned her steps be- 
hind her. Sainte-Beuve, who as an artist relished her 
but slenderly, says somewhere, in allusion to her, that 
"no one had ever played more fairly and openly at the 
great game of life." It has been said wittily, in refer- 
ence to Buffon's well-known axiom, that "the style is 
the man" (which by the way is a misquotation), that 
of no one was this dictum ever so true as of Mme. Sand ; 
but I incline to believe, with the critic in whose pages 
I find this mot, that at bottom the man was always 
Mme. Sand herself. She accepted as much of every in- 
fluence as suited her, and when she had written a novel 
or two about it she ceased to care about it. This proves 
her, doubtless, to have been a decidedly superficial 
moralist; but it proves her to have been a born ro- 
mancer. It is by the purely romantic side of her pro- 
ductions that she will live. It is a misfortune that she 
pretended to moralize to the extent that she did, for 
about moral matters her head was not at all clear. It 
had now and then capital glimpses and inspirations, 
but her didacticism has always seemed to me what an 
architectural drawing would be, executed by a person 
who should turn up his nose at geometry. Mme. Sand's 
straight lines are straight by a happy chance and 

184 ' 

George Sand 

for people of genius there are so many happy chances. 
She was without a sense of certain differences the dif- 
ference between the pure and the impure the things 
that are possible for people of a certain delicacy, and 
the things that are not. When she struck the right 
notes, and so long as she continued to strike them, the 
result was charming, but a sudden discord was always 
possible. Sometimes the right note was admirably pro- 
longed as for instance in her masterpiece, Consuelo, 
in which during three long volumes, if I remember 
rightly, the charming heroine adheres strictly to the 
straight line. After all, Mme. Sand's "tendency" novels, 
as the Germans call such works, constitute but the 
minor part of her literary bequest ; as she advanced in 
life she wrote her stories more and more for the story's 
sake, and attempted to prove nothing more alarming 
than that human nature is on the whole tolerably noble 
and generous. After this pattern she produced a long 
list of masterpieces. Her imagination seemed gifted 
with perpetual youth; the freshness of her invention 
was marvelous. Her novels have a great many faults ; 
they lack three or four qualities which the realistic 
novel of the last thirty or forty years, with its great 
successes, has taught us to consider indispensable. They 
are not exact nor probable; they contain few living 
figures; they produce a limited amount of illusion. 
Mme. Sand created no figures that have passed into 
common life and speech; her people are usually only 
very picturesque, very voluble, and very "high-toned" 
shadows. But the shadows move to such a persuasive 


Parisian Sketches 

music that we watch them with interest. The art of 
narration is extraordinary. This was Mme. Sand's 
great art. The recital moves along with an evenness, 
a lucidity, a tone of seeing, feeling, knowing every- 
thing, a reference to universal tilings, a sentimental 
authority, which makes the reader care for the char- 
acters in spite of his incredulity and feel anxious about 
the story in spite of his impatience. He feels that the 
author holds in her hands a stringed instrument com- 
posed of the chords of the human soul. 

Paris is settling herself for her summer siesta, and 
all disturbing sounds are daily growing fainter. There 
is indeed a vague booming of cannon, actual and pros- 
pective, beyond the eastern horizon, and her sleep may 
have troubled dreams. The race for the Grand Prix 
came off some three weeks ago, and the Grand Prix, 
I believe, is the high-water mark of Parisian animation. 
Since then the tide has rapidly ebbed. I have left my- 
self no space to speak how profanely soever of this 
equine contest, and I have the opportunity to devote 
but a few lines to the Review of the 15th of June. I 
witnessed the latter ceremony from a rickety straw- 
bottomed chair, upon which I stood for three or four 
hours in a very hot sun ; but in spite of my discomfort 
I thought the Review entertaining which is speaking 
handsomely. It was held on the immense race grounds 
at Longchamp, and consisted of a simple march past 
of 40,000 troops or so stationed in Paris or immedi- 
ately near it. The day was charming, and the crowd 
enormous, and Marshal MacMahon and his staff and 


George Sand 

escort formed a very glittering array. The little red 
legs seemed to me to march very neatly, and the ar- 
tillery to thunder by with a proper amount of method 
in its madness; the dragoons and cuirassiers, on the 
other hand, did not strike me as sitting their horses 
like the young Greeks on the friezes of the Parthenon. 
But the whole show, I believe, was pronounced credit- 
able, and, asking no oversearching questions of it, I 
was quite willing to exclaim, with the Grand Duchess 
of Grolstein "Ah, que j'aime les militaires!" 

July 22, 1876 




Letter from Henry James, Jr. 





HAVRE, July 22. It is quite in the nature of things 
that a Parisian correspondence should have flagged 
during the last few weeks ; for even the most brilliant 
of capitals, when the summer has fairly marked her 
for its own, affords few topics to the chronicler. To 
a chronicle of small beer such a correspondence almost 
literally finds itself reduced. The correspondent con- 
sumes a goodly number of these narrow mugfuls of 
this fluid, known in Paris as "bocks," and from the 
shadiest corner of the coolest cafe he can discover 
watches the glaring asphalt grow more largely inter- 
spaced. There is little to do or to see, and therefore 
little to write about. There is in fact only one thing 
to do, namely, to get out of Paris. The lively imagina- 
tion of the correspondent anticipates his departure and 


Summer in France 

takes its flight to one of the innumerable watering 
places whose charms at this season are set forth in 
large yellow and pink placards affixed to all the empty 
walls. They order this matter, like so many others, 
much better in France. Here you have not, as with us, 
to hunt up the "summer retreat' 5 about which you de- 
sire information in a dense alphabetical list in the col- 
umns of a newspaper ; you are familiar with its merits 
for three weeks before you start you have seen them 
half a dozen times a day emblazoned along the line of 
your customary walk, as vivid and substantial as the 
hand and seal of the corporation of the Casino can 
make them. If you are detained in Paris, however, after 
luckier mortals have departed your reflections upon 
the fate of the luckless mortals who do not depart at 
all are quite another question, demanding another 
chapter I don't know that it makes you much happier 
to peruse these high-toned posters, which seem to flut- 
ter with the breezes of Houlgate and fitretat. You must 
take your consolation where you can find it, and it 
must be added that of all great cities Paris is the most 
tolerable in hot weather. It is true that the asphalt 
has a way of liquefying to about the consistency and 
the temperature of molten lava, and it is true that the 
brilliant limestone of which the city is built reflects the 
sun with uncomfortable fierceness. It is also true that 
of a summer evening you pay a penalty for living in 
the best lighted capital in the world. The inordinate 
amount of gas in all the thoroughfares heats and thick- 
ens the atmosphere, and makes you feel of a July night 

- 189 

Parisian Sketches 

as if you were in a vast concert hall. If you look down 
at such a time upon the central portions of Paris from 
a high window in a remoter quarter, you see them 
wrapped in a sort of lurid haze of the devil's own brew- 
ing. But, on the other hand, there are a hundred per- 
suasions to keeping out of doors. You are not obliged 
to sit on a "stoop" or on a curbstone, as in New York. 
The boulevards are a long chain of cafes, each one 
with its little promontory of chairs and tables project- 
ing into the sea of asphalt. These promontories are 
doubtless not exactly islands of the blessed, peopled 
though some of them may be with sirens addicted to 
beer, but they may help you to pass a hot evening. 
Then you may dine in the Champs filysees at a table 
spread under the trees, beside an ivied wall, and almost 
believe you are in the country. This illusion, imperfect 
as it is, is a luxury and must be paid for accordingly ; 
the dinner is not so good as at a restaurant on the 
boulevard, and is considerably dearer, and there is 
after all not much difference in sitting with one's feet 
in dusty gravel or on a sanded floor. But the whole 
situation is more idyllic. I indulged in a cheap idyl the 
other day by taking the penny steamer down the Seine 
to Auteuil (a very short sail), and dining at what is 
called in Parisian parlance a guinguette on the bank 
of the stream. It was a very humble style of entertain- 
ment, but the most frantic pursuit of pleasure can do 
no more than succeed, and this was a success. The Seine 
at Auteuil is wide and is spanned by a stately tiaduct 
of two tiers of arches, which stands up against the sky 


Summer in France 

in a picturesque and monumental manner. Your table 
is spread under a trellis which scratches your head 
spread chiefly with fried fish and an old man who 
looks like a very high-toned political exile conies and 
stands before it and sings a doleful ditty on the respect 
due to white hairs. You testify by the bestowal of a 
couple of coppers to the esteem with which his own 
inspire you, and he is speedily replaced by a lad with 
one arm, who treats you to something livelier: "A la 
bonne heure; parlez-moi de fa!" 

You eventually return to Paris on the top of a 
horsecar. It is a very different affair to go out and 
dine at the Bois de Boulogne, at the charming restau- 
rant which is near the cascade and the Longchamp race 
course. Here are no ballad singers, but stately trees 
picturesquely grouped, and making long evening shad- 
ows on a lawn, and irreproachable tables, and carriages 
rolling up behind high-stepping horses, and depositing 
all sorts of ladies. The drive back through the wood at 
night is most charming, and the coolness of the air ex- 
treme, however hot you may be still certain to find the 

The best thing, therefore, is not to go back. I write 
these lines at an inn at Havre, before a window which 
frames the picture of the seaward path of the transat- 
lantic steamers. One of the great black ships is at this 
moment painted on the canvas, very near, and beginning 
its outward journey. I watch it to the right-hand ledge 
of the window, which is as far as a poor sailor need 
be expected to follow it. The hotel at Havre is called, 


Parisian Sketches 

for mysterious reasons, Frascati reasons which I give 
up the attempt to fathom, so undiscoverable are its 
points of analogy with the lovely village of the same 
name which nestles among the olives of the Roman 
hills. The locality has its charms, however. It is very 
agreeable, for instance, at the end of a hot journey, 
to sit down to dinner in a great open cage, hung over 
the Atlantic, and, while the sea breeze cools your wine, 
watch the swiftly moving ships pass before you like the 
figures on the field of a magic lantern. It is pleasant 
also to open your eyes in the early dawn, before the 
light is intense, and without moving your head on the 
pillow, enjoy the same clear outlook on the ocean high- 
way. In the vague dusk, with their rapid gliding, the 
sailing vessels look like the ghosts of wrecked ships. 
Most seaports are picturesque, and Havre is not the 
least so; but my enjoyment has been not of my goal, 
but of my journey. My head is full of the twenty-four 
hours I have just passed at Rouen, and of the charm- 
ing sail down the Seine to Honfleur. Rouen is a city 
of very ancient renown, and yet I confess I was not 
prepared to find so magnificent a little town. 2 The 
traveler who treads the Rouen streets at the present 
day sees but the shadow of their former picturesque- 
ness; for the broom of M. Haussmann has swept 
through the city, and a train of "embellishments" has 
followed in its track. The streets have been widened 
and straightened, and the old houses gems of medieval 
domestic architecture which formed the peculiar 
treasure of the city, have been more than decimated. 


Summer in France 

A great deal remains, however to American eyes a 
very great deal. The cathedral, the churches, and the 
Palais de Justice are alone a splendid group of monu- 
ments, and a stroll through the streets reveals a collec- 
tion of brown and sculptured f aades, of quaintly tim- 
bered gables, of curious turrets and casements and 
doorways, which still may be called rich. Every now 
and then a good long stretch of duskiness and crooked- 
ness delights the sentimental traveler, who is to pass 
but a couple of nights at Rouen, and who does not care 
if his favorite adjective is balanced with another epi- 
thet also beginning with a p. It is nothing to him that 
the picturesque is pestiferous. It is everything to him 
that the great front of the cathedral is magnificently 
battered, and heavy, and impressive. It has been de- 
faced on a vast scale, and is now hardly more than a 
collection of empty niches. I do not mean, of course, 
that the wanton tourist rejoices in the absence of the 
statues which once filled them, but up to the present 
moment, at least, he is not sorry that the f a9ade has 
not been restored. It consists of a sort of screen, pierced 
in the center with a huge wheel window, crowned with 
a pyramid of chiseled needles and spires, flanked with 
two turrets capped with tall empty canopies, and cov- 
ered, generally, with sculptures bas-relief, statues, 
and ornaments. On each side of it rise two great towers, 
one a rugged mass of early Norman work, with little 
ornament save its hatcheted closed arches, and its 
great naked base as huge and white as the bottom of 
a chalk cliff ; the other a specimen of sixteenth-century 


Parisian Sketches 

gothic, extremely flamboyant and elegant and con- 
founding to the eye. The sides of the cathedral are as 
yet more or less imbedded in certain black and dwarfish 
old houses, but if you pass around them by a long de- 
tour, you arrive at two superb lateral porches. The 
so-called Portail des Libraires, in especial, on the 
northern side, is a magnificent affair, sculptured from 
summit to base (it is now restored), and preceded by 
a long forecourt, in which the guild of booksellers used 
to hold its musty traffic. From here you can see the 
immense central tower, perched above the junction of 
the transepts and the nave, and crowned with a gigan- 
tic iron spire lately erected to replace one which was 
destroyed by lightning in the early part of the century. 
This gaunt pyramid has the drawback, to American 
eyes, of resembling too much the tall fire towers which 
are seen in transatlantic cities, and its dimensions are 
such that, viewed from a distance, it fairly makes little 
Rouen look top-heavy. Behind the choir within is a 
beautiful lady-chapel, and in this chapel are two en- 
chanting works of art. The larger and more striking 
of these is the tomb of the two Cardinals d'Amboise, 8 
uncle and nephew, the elder, if I mistake not, Minister 
of Francis I. It consists of a shallow, oblong recess in 
the wall, lined with gilded and fretted marble, and cor- 
niced with delicate little statues. Within the recess the 
figures of the two cardinals are kneeling with folded 
hands and ruggedly earnest faces, their long robes 
spread out behind them with magnificent amplitude. 
They are full of life, dignity, and piety ; they look like 


Summer in France 

portraits of Holbein transmuted into marble. The base 
of the monument is composed of a series of admirable 
little images representing the cardinal and other vir- 
tues, and the effect of the whole work is admirably 
grave and rich. The discreet traveler will never miss 
an opportunity to come into a great church at even- 
tide the hour when his fellow travelers, less discreet, 
are lingering over the table d'hote, when the painted 
windows glow with a deeper splendor, when the long 
wand of the beadle, slowly tapping the pavement, or 
the shuffle of the old sacristan, has a ghostly resonance 
along the empty nave, and three or four work-weary 
women, before a dusky chapel, are mumbling for the 
remission of unimaginable sins. At this hour, at Rouen, 
the tomb of the Duke de Breze, husband of Diana of 
Poitiers, placed opposite to the monument I have just 
described, seemed to me the most beautiful thing in the 
world. It is presumably the work of the charming six- 
teenth-century sculptor, Jean Ponjon, and it bears the 
stamp of his graceful and inventive talent. The de- 
ceased is lying on his back almost naked, with a part 
of his shroud bound in a knot about his head a real- 
istic but not a repulsive image of death. At his head 
kneels the amiable Diana, in sober garments, all de- 
cency and devotion; at his feet stands the Virgin, a 
charming young woman with a charming child- Above, 
on another tier, the subject of the monument is repre- 
sented in the fullness of life, dressed as for a tourna- 
ment, bestriding a high-stepping war horse, riding 
forth like a Roland or a Galahad. The architecture of 


Parisian Sketches 

the tomb is most graceful and the subordinate figures 
admirable, but the image of the dead Duke is altogether 
a masterpiece. The other evening, in the solemn still- 
ness and the fading light of the great cathedral, it 
seemed irresistibly human and touching. The spectator 
felt a sort of impulse to smooth out the shroud and 
straighten the helpless hands. 

The second church of Rouen, St. Ouen, the beautiful 
and harmonious, has no monuments of this value, but 
it offers within a higher interest than the cathedral. 
Without, it looks like an English abbey, scraped and 
restored, disencumbered of huddling neighbors and 
surrounded on three sides by a beautiful garden. Seen 
to this excellent advantage it is one of the noblest of 
churches ; but within, it is one of the most fascinating. 
I am always, in architectural matters, very much of 
the opinion of the last speaker; the last fine building 
I have seen seems to me for the time the finest possible. 
This is deplorable levity; yet I risk the affirmation 
apropos of St. Ouen. I can imagine no more consum- 
mate combination of lightness and majesty. Its pro- 
portions bring tears to the eyes. I have left myself 
space only to recommend the sail down the Seine from 
Rouen to the mouth of the stream; but I recommend 
it in the highest terms. The heat was extreme and the 
little steamer most primitive, but the river is as pic- 
turesque as one could wish. It makes an infinite num- 
ber of bends, and corners, and angles, rounded by a 
charming vegetation. Abrupt and rocky hills go with 
it all the way hills with cornfields lying in their hol- 


Summer in France 

lows, and forests crowning their tops. Out of the for- 
ests peep old manors, and beneath, between the hills 
and the stream, are high-thatched farmsteads, lying 
deep in their meadows and orchards, cottages palisaded 
with hollyhocks, gray old Norman churches, and villas 
shaded with enormous trees. It is a land of peace and 
plenty, and remarkable to Anglo-Saxon eyes for the 
English-looking details of its scenery. I noticed a hun- 
dred places where one might have been in Kent as well 
as in Normandy. In fact it is almost better than Kent, 
for Kent has no Seine. At the last the river becomes 
unmistakably an arm of the sea, and as a river, there- 
fore, less interesting. But crooked little Honfleur, with 
its miniature port, clinging to the side of a cliff as 
luxuriant as one of the headlands of the Mediterranean, 
is a picturesque last incident, 

August 12, 1876 





Letter 'from Henry James, Jr. 





ETRETAT, Aug. 4. The coast of Normandy and 
Picardy, from Trouville to Boulogne, is a chain of 
what the French call bathing stations, each with its 
particular claim to patronage. The grounds of the 
claim are in some cases not particularly obvious; but 
they are generally found to reside in the fact that if 
the locality is nasty, it is also cheap. There are the 
places that are dear and brilliant, like Trouville and 
Dieppe, and places that are cheap and dreary, like 
Fecamp and Cabourg. Then there are the places that 
are both cheap and pleasant. This delightful combina- 
tion of qualities may be found in the modest station 
de 'bains from which I write these lines. At Eltretat you 
may enjoy some of the finest cliff scenery it has been 
my fortune to behold, and you may breakfast and dine 
at the principal hotel for the sum of five and a half 


A French Watering Place 

francs a day. You may engage a room in the town 
over a butcher's shop, a tailor's or a laundress's at a 
rate that will depend upon your talent fo,r driving a 
bargain, but that in no case will be exorbitant. Add to 
this your subscription to the Casino, which, for the 
season, will amount to some $8.00 or $9.00, your few 
coppers daily for the hire of your bathing toggery, and 
your matutinal subsidy to the lame beggar at the be- 
ginning of the beach, and you have a list of all your 
possible expenses at fitretat. You wear old clothes, you 
walk in canvas shoes, you deck your head with a fisher- 
man's cap (when made of white flannel these articles 
may be extolled for their coolness, convenience, and 
picturesqueness), you lie on the pebbly strand most 
of the day, watching the cliffs, the waves, and the 
bathers ; in the evening you loaf about the Casino, and 
you keep monkish hours. Though fitretat enjoys great 
and deserved popularity, I see no symptoms of the de- 
cline of these simple fashions no menace of the in- 
vasion of luxury. A little more luxury, indeed, might 
be imported without doing any harm; though after 
all we soon learn that it is an idle enough prejudice 
that has hitherto prevented us from keeping our soap 
in a sugar dish and closing our clothes press with a 
stone. From a Parisian point of view, Etretat is cer- 
tainly primitive, but it would be affectation on the part 
of an American to pretend that he was not agreeably 
surprised to find a "summer resort," in which he had 
been warned that he would have to rough it, so com- 
pletely appointed and so intelligently organized. 


Parisian Sketches 

Etretat may be primitive, but fitretat is French, and 
therefore Etretat is "administered." The place strikes 
me as a rather happy combination of smoothness and 
roughness. It weans you from the corruptions of civili- 
zation, but it lets you down gently upon the bosom of 
nature; it doesn't dump you there with the brutality 
observable upon the coast of Maine and of Massachu- 

Etretat, like most of the French watering places, has 
a brief history. Twenty years ago it was but a cluster 
of fishing huts. A group of artists and literary people 
were its first colonists, and Alphonse Karr 2 became the 
mouthpiece of their enthusiasm. In vulgar phrase, he 
wrote up the place, and he lives in legend, at the present 
hour, as the genius locL The main street is named after 
him; the gable of the chief inn the classic Hotel 
Blanquet is adorned with a colored medallion repre- 
senting his cropped head and long beard; the shops 
are stocked with his photographs and with pictures of 
his villa. I don't know whether, like the hero of Mrs. 
Shelley's Frankenstein, he became appalled at the 
monster he had created, and felt that he had suc- 
ceeded too well; but of late years he has withdrawn 
from fitretat. The artistic fraternity, however, still 
haunt the place, and it enjoys also the favor of theatri- 
cal people, three or four of whom, having retired upon 
their laurels, possess villas here. The largest luminary 
in this line is M. Jacques Offenbach, 8 who, I believe, 
has for some time lived here, and who may be seen in 
the evenings in the Casino, sitting in quiet attitudes, 


A French Watering Place 

and, to one's extreme surprise, not shaking his legs, 
making play with his eyes, or indulging in any degree 
in that familiar quality of gesticulation with which his 
name is so invariably associated. From my open win- 
dow, as I write these lines, I look out and over a little 
cluster of clean housetops at the long green flank of 
the downs, as it slopes down to the town from the sum- 
mit of the cliffs. To the right is the top of an old 
storm-twisted grove of oaks in the heart of which 
stands a picturesque farmhouse ; then comes the sharp, 
even outline of the down, with its side spotted with little 
flat bushes and wrinkled with winding paths, along 
which, here and there, I see a bright figure moving ; on 
the left, above the edge of the cliff, stands a bleak little 
chapel to our Lady of the fishing folk. Just here a 
most provoking chimney starts up and cuts off my view 
of the downward plunge of the cliff, showing me but a 
gleam of its white, fantastic profile, and a bar of blue 
ocean beside it. But there is not far to go to see with- 
out impediments. Three minutes' walk along the Rue 
Alphonse Karr, where every house is a shop, and every 
house has lodgers above it, who scramble bedward by 
a ladder and trapdoor, brings you to the little pebbly 
bay where the cliffs fall and the foreign life of fitretat 
goes forward. At one end are the small fishing smacks, 
with their green sides and their black sails, resting 
crookedly upon the stones ; at the other is the Casino, 
and the two or three tiers of bathing houses on the slope 
of the beach in front of it. This beach may be said to 
be tretat. It is so steep and stony as to make circu- 


Parisian Sketches 

lation impossible ; one's only course is to plant a camp 
chair among the stones or to look for a soft spot in 
the pebbles, and to abide in the position so chosen ; and 
yet it is the spot in Etretat most sacred to tranquil 

The French do not treat their beaches as we do ours 
as places for a glance, a dip, or a trot, places ani- 
mated simply during the couple of hours of bathing 
time and wrapped in natural desolation for the rest 
of the twenty-four. They love them, they adore them, 
they take possession of them, they encamp upon them. 
The people here sit upon the beach from morning till 
night; whole families come early and establish them- 
selves, with umbrellas and rugs, books and work. The 
ladies get sunburnt and don't mind it; the gentlemen 
smoke interminably; the children roll over on the 
pointed pebbles and stare at the sun like young eagles. 
(The children's lot I rather commiserate; they have 
no wooden spades and pails; they have no sand to 
delve and grub in ; they can dig no trenches and canals 
nor see the creeping tide flood them.) The great occu- 
pation and amusement is the bathing, which has many 
entertaining features (I allude to it as a spectacle), 
especially for strangers, who keep an eye upon na- 
tional idiosyncrasies. The French take their bathing 
very seriously; supplemented by opera-bouffe in the 
evening at the Casino, it quite fills out their lives. The 
spectators and the bathers commingle in graceful pro- 
miscuity; it is the freedom of the golden age. The 
whole beach seems to be a large family party, in a 


A French Watering Place 

family which should have radical views as regards some 
prudish prejudices. There is more or less costume, but 
the minimum rather than the maximum is found to pre- 
vail. Bathers come out of their dressing houses wrapped 
in short white sheets, which they deposit on the stones ; 
and thus they take an air bath for some minutes, be- 
fore entering the water. Like everything in France, the 
bathing is excellently managed, and you feel the firm 
hand of a paternal and overlooking government the 
moment you issue from your hut. The government will 
on no consideration consent to letting you get drowned. 
There are six or eight worthy old sons of Neptune on 
the beach perfect amphibious creatures who, if you 
are a newcomer, immediately accost you and demand 
pledges that you know how to swim. If you do not, they 
give you much excellent advice, guide your infant 
steps, and keep an eye on you while you are in the 
water. They are, moreover, obliged to render you any 
service you may demand to pour buckets of water 
over your head, to fetch your bathing sheet and your 
slippers, to carry your wife and children into the sea, 
to dip them, cheer and sustain them, to teach them how 
to swim and how to dive, to hover about, in short, like 
trickling Providences. At a short distance from the 
shore are two boats, freighted with more of these ma- 
rine divinities, who remain there perpetually, and take 
it as a personal offense if you catch a cramp or venture 
out too far. 

There has, I believe, never been a life lost in bathing 
at Etretat, and this fair record is a part of the fortune 

Parisian Sketches 

of the town. I see no reason why it should ever be tar- 
nished, however, for the French are noticeably good 
swimmers. Everyone swims, and swims well men, 
women, and children. I have been especially struck 
with the prowess of the ladies, who take the neatest 
possible headers from the two long plunging boards 
which are rigged in the water upon high wheels. As 
you recline upon the beach, you may observe Mile. X. 4 
issue from her cabin Mile. X., the actress of the 
Palais Royal Theater, whom you have seen and ap- 
plauded behind the footlights. She wears a bathing 
dress in which, as regards the trousers, even what I 
have called the minimum has been appreciably scanted ; 
but she trips down, surveying her breezy nether limbs. 
"C'est convemable, j'espere, eh?" says Mademoiselle, 
and trots up the springboard which projects over the 
waves with one end uppermost, like a great seesaw. She 
balances a moment, and then gives a great aerial dive, 
executing on the way the most graceful of somersaults. 
This performance Mile. X. repeats during the ensuing 
hour, at intervals of five minutes, and leaves you, as 
you lie tossing little stones into the water, to ponder 
the curious and delicate question why a lady may go 
so far as to put herself into a single scant, clinging 
garment and take a straight leap, head downward, be- 
fore 300 spectators, without violation of propriety 
leaving the impropriety to begin with her turning over 
in the air in such a way that for five seconds her head 
is upward. The logic of the matter is mysterious ; white 
and black are divided by a hair. But the fact remains 


A French Watering Place 

that virtue is on one side of the hair and vice on the 
other. There are some days here so still and radiant, 
however, that it seems as if vice itself, steeped in such 
an air and such a sea, might be diluted into innocence. 
The sea is as blue as melted sapphires, and the ragged 
white faces of the bordering cliffs look like a setting 
of silver. Everyone is idle, amused, good-natured ; the 
bathers take the water as easily as mermen and mer- 
maids. The bathing men in the two bateaux de mrveil- 
Icmce have taken aboard a freight of rosy children, 
more or less chubbily naked, and they have nailed a 
gay streamer and a rude nosegay to their low mast- 
heads. The swimmers dip and rise, circling round the 
boats and playing with the children. Every now and 
then they grasp the sides of the boats and cling to 
them in a dozen harmonious attitudes, making one 
fancy that Eugene Delacroix's great picture of Dante 
and Virgil on the Styx, with the damned trying to 
scramble into Charon's bark, has been repainted as a 
scene on one of the streams of Paradise. The swimmers 
are not the damned, but the blessed, and the demon- 
strative French babies are the cherubs. The Casino at 
fitretat is a modest but respectable institution, with a 
sufficiently capacious terrace, directly upon the beach, 
a cafe, a billiard room, a ballroom which may also 
be used as a theater, a reading room, and a salon de 
conversation. It is in very good taste, without any at- 
tempt at gilding or mirrors ; the ballroom, in fact, is 
quite a masterpiece, with its charm of effect produced 
simply by unpainted woods and happy proportions. 


Parisian Sketches 

Three evenings in the week a bland young man in a 
white cravat plays waltzes on a grand piano; but the 
effect is not that of an American "hop," owing to the 
young ladies of France not being permitted to dance 
in public places. They may only sit wistfully beside 
their mammas. Imagine a "hop" at which sweet seven- 
teen is condemned to immobility. The burden of the 
gaiety is sustained by three or four robust English 
maidens and as many lighter-footed Americans. On the 
other evenings a weak little operatic troupe gives light 
specimens of the lyric drama, the privilege of enjoying 
which is covered by one's subscription to the Casino. The 
French hurry in joyously (four times a week in July and 
August !) at the sound of the bell, but I can give no re- 
port of the performances. Sometimes I look through the 
lighted windows and see, on the diminutive stage, a short- 
skirted young woman with one hand on her heart and 
the other persuasively extended. Through the hot, un- 
pleasant air comes a little ghost of a roulade. I turn 
away and walk on the terrace and listen to the ocean 
vocalizing to the stars. But there are (by daylight) 
other walks at fitretat than the terrace, and no account 
of the place is complete without some commemoration 
of the superb cliffs. They are the finest I have seen; 
their fantastic needles and buttresses, at either end of 
the little bay, give to fitretat a striking individuality. 
Their height is magnificent ; if a poor eye for measure- 
ment is to be trusted, I should say it was, on an aver- 
age, an affair of 200 feet. In spite of there being no 
sands, a persistent admirer of nature will walk a long 

206 * 

A French Watering Place 

distance upon the tiresome sea margin of pebbles for 
the sake of being under them and visiting some of their 
quiet caves and shadowed corners. Seen thus from di- 
rectly below, they look stupendous; they rise up like 
certain great mountain walls in the Alps. They are 
marvelously white and straight and smooth ; they have 
the tone and something of the surface of time-yellowed 
marble, and here and there, at their summits, they 
break into quaint little pinnacles and turrets. But to 
be on the top of them is even better; here you may 
walk over miles of grassy, breezy down, with the woods, 
contorted and sea-stunted, of old farmsteads on your 
land side (the farmhouses here have all a charming 
way of being buried in a wood, like the castle of the 
Sleeping Beauty), coming every little while upon a 
weather-blackened old shepherd and his flock (their 
conversation the shepherds' is delightful), or on 
some little seaward-plunging valley, holding in its 
green hollow a diminutive agricultural village, cur- 
tained round from the sea winds by a dense circular 
stockade of trees. So you may go southward or north- 
ward without impediment to Havre or to Dieppe. 

August 26, 1876 




The James-Reid correspondence used in this volume 
is to be found in the archives of the Tribune (now the 
New York Her<dld Tribwie) where it is filed in Letter 
Books chronologically arranged. Reid's letters are exact 
reproductions made by a process which transferred the 
original script to sheets of a tissue-like paper. Owing 
to the smallness of the handwriting, the kind of paper 
used for duplicating, and the blurring caused by the 
process itself, Reid's letters are not entirely legible. 
James's letters are holograph and may be read without 
difficulty. Other pieces of correspondence have been 
included here to provide a complete documentary pic- 
ture. With the exception of the very first letter in the 
sequence, which is taken from Royal Cortissoz, The 
Life of Whitelaw Reid (New York, 1921), the items 
have been copied from the Tribune Letter Books. 


Henry James, Jr., wants to write for the Tribiwe, 
letters from Paris, where he is going to live for some 


Parisian Sketches 

time to come. He considers the Tribune the only paper 
where business could be combined with literary ambi- 
tion. I hope you will engage him instead of Houssaye. 
He will write better letters than anybody you know 
his wonderful style and keen observation of life and 
character. He has no hesitation in saying that he can 
beat Houssaye on his own ground, gossip and chronicle, 
and I agree with him. Besides, his name is almost, if not 
quite, equally valuable and far more regarded by 
cultivated people. He would cost not more than half 
what Houssaye costs (counting translation) and I think 
his letters would be about twice as good. He would not 
interfere with Huntington but would simply take Hous- 
saye's place and in my opinion fill it much better. 

He will start in the autumn some time. You might let 
Houssaye run on until James gets there and then dis- 
charge him with a Grantish letter telling him how de- 
lighted you and the public have been with his letters, 
but that the labor of translation has been very difficult 
and now has become almost impossible through the re- 
moval from New York of the invaluable roster who 
did it, etc., etc. 

In short, this is the statement. You pay Houssaye 
$30 for a not very good letter and me, Heaven knows 
how much for translating it. For, say, $20 or $25 
James will write you a much better letter and sign his 
name to it. 

His address is 20 Quincy St., Cambridge, Mass. You 
can write to him or to me. 




My dear Hay: 

I agree with you about Houssaye more fully prob- 
ably than you expected. My plan about him, as I think 
I mentioned to you [word illegible] , was to let him run 
on 5 or 6 weeks and then, unless he [wore?] well, look 
up some other novelty. Only the other day we were 
saying that it was [now?] enough to keep up Hous- 
saye, like John Paul and other light matter, through 
the summer, but that in the autumn or winter we should 
have to make a change. 

I think exceedingly well of Henry James, though in 
view of Huntington I doubt whether it is desirable to 
pay him more than $20 a letter. [We? He?] should 
want to use his signature, I think [or?] his initial and 
identify them at the [end?]. 

If you like pray go ahead and make the bargain 
with him. I should not, however, make it for any fixed 
length of time. The [Tribune constituency?] loves a 
change now and then except in the case of a few men 
like Smalley who are perennial favorites. . . . 

Faithfully yours, 


Parisian Sketches 


Henry James Jr. is engaged to do Paris letters in 
place of Houssaye at $20 gold, per letter, to begin 
about 25th October, 1875. 

W. R 


My dear Sir : 

I enclose herewith my first attempt at a letter to the 
Tribune. I hope it will pass muster. I have been here 
but a few days and feel by no means au courant or 
wound up to the writing pitch. This is a thing which 
will have to come little by little ; the lapse of time will 
help me more and more to do as I desire. Meanwhile I 
will do what I can. I have unfortunately had no Tribune 
at hand, and have not been able to take a very accurate 
measure of my copy. I am afraid there will be rather 
too much than too little. I hope, however, that there 
will be about just enough. Let me also hope that any 
heading prefixed to the letter will be as brief and sim- 
ple as possible. The above is my permanent address. I 
beg you, if Mr. Hay is in New York, to commend me 
very kindly to him. 

Yours very truly 



ARY 15, 1876.] 

Probably your inquiry about Paris correspondence 
may need a word of explanation. My understanding 
was that you were to undertake to furnish a good 
weekly letter from Paris, securing some correspondent 
who was satisfactory both to you and ourselves, and 
any arrangement we might make with Henry James 
would be wholly outside of that. The regular Paris 
correspondent [would?] deal with politics, news, [what- 
soever?] may be appropriate. James's letters would be, 
like Houssaye's, things apart. The same with Trollope. 
We may or may not continue him, but he is, of course, 
outside the arrangement made with you. . . . 


Dear Sir: 

I have yours of the llth inst. enclosing your tenth 
letter to the Tribune and asking payment for that 
number. Our representative in London, Mr. Geo. W. 
Smalley, 15 Pall Mall, will on receipt of this forward 
you the amount. 

I assume that your plans are not likely to take you 
much away from Paris for some months to come. If I 


Parisian Sketches 

am wrong in this I should be glad to be advised early. 
Some applications have been made for Parisian corre- 
spondence, which we have denied at once, preparing to 
have the benefit of your services as long as we can. 

The letters have not made much [talk?] in the news- 
papers, but I think they have given a great deal of 
satisfaction to a large majority of our readers. Hous- 
saye continues to work a little and is anxious to have 
[say?] a letter a month. 

You will be sorry to hear that [John Hay?] is not 
quite so well as usual, and in consequence is not giving 
us as much work as we would like. His wife [several 
words illegible] this week, but returns within a few 
days. I fancy that their European trip for this sum- 
mer is practically abandoned, although they have 
hardly brought themselves to admit it yet. 

Very truly yours, 

PARIS, APRIL 11, 1876.] 

My dear Sir: 

I receive your letter just as I am about to enclose 
another missive to the Tribune. Many thanks for the 
order upon Mr. Smalley, which I will today forward 
to him. 

I am glad you have reason to believe that my letters 
are pleasing to most of your readers that they could 

214 ' 


find an echo in the other papers I never expected. I 
am quite contented with such publicity as the Tribune 
gives them. I am likely (from present appearances) 
to he in Paris for an indefinite period to come. I shall 
go away for the summer (after July 1) but I shall re- 
main in France, and be able to write, I hope, two or 
three times a month. In the autumn I shall almost to a 
certainty be back here for next winter. You may there- 
fore continue to count upon me. 

Many thanks for your news about Hay, which I am 
sorry is not better. I hope strongly that his bad health 
is a very temporary annoyance. Will you give him 
(and to Mrs. Hay) my kind regards and the assurance 
of my sympathy? I regret that I am not to have the 
pleasure of seeing them this summer. 

Yours very truly 

BOURG, APRIL 23^ 1876.] 

My dear Mr. Reid: 

I enclose another a 14th letter. Let me add a most 
earnest and urgent request that the practice of insert- 
ing headings to the successive paragraphs in my let- 
ters, which I see was begun on April 1 last, be not con- 
tinued. I object to it in the strongest possible manner 
and I entreat and beseech you to cause it to be sup- 

' 215* 

Parisian Sketches 

pressed. May I not safely count on your doing so? The 
thing is in every way disagreeable to me. 

Yours very truly 

Memorandum written on the back of the preceding 
letter to Whitelaw Reid by a member of his staff. (The 
James dispatch referred to is that of April 1, 1876, 
"Parisian Topics.") 

The letter of April 1, being a very long one, Mr. Ford 
put crossheads in it. We have not used them since, and 
will not unless you say so especially. 



My dear Mr, Reid : 

I send the Tribune another letter, after a longer in- 
terval than usual, occasioned by a dearth of topics dur- 
ing the last two or three weeks of my stay in Paris. I 
am here at a curious little sea-bathing place, to which, 
a few days hence, I will devote a letter. I must leave 
your people the responsibility of baptising the one I 
enclose. It is chiefly about Rouen. 

I applied to Mr. Smalley some days ago for pay- 
ment for the letters I had sent you (with the exception 
of one, the 19th ) since the receipt of the check you 



authorized him to send me for eight letters, though, 
as he said, the proceeding was irregular, he not being 
authorized afresh. The next time I will apply to you 

I should like to propose you on this point an aug- 
mentation; viz.: that, beginning with the letter I en- 
close, I receive thirty dollars per letter. Will you be 
so good as to let me know whether this is agreeable to 


Very truly yours 


Dear Mr. James : 

I am in receipt of your favor of the 25th July sug- 
gesting an advance of one-half the payment for your 

I have been on the point of writing you making a sug- 
gestion of a quite different nature. It was to the effect 
that the letters should be made rather more "newsy" 
in character, and somewhat shorter, and that they 
should be sent somewhat less frequently. The reason [is 
that we are?] approaching the most interesting period 
of the Centennial Exhibition, and are just entering 
the active part of the Presidential campaign. At this 
time we have less room for foreign matters, and find 
less interest among our readers for what foreign corre- 
spondence we do get room to print. 


Parisian Sketches 

In addition to this we have feared that your letters 
were sometimes on topics too remote from popular 
interests to please more than a select few of our 
readers. The Tribune constituency is undoubtedly the 
most intelligent one possessed by any of the widely 
circulated newspapers, but it is certainly possible to 
overestimate its literary culture and interest in the 
[pure?] literary treatment of a subject. We must not 
forget that the people who read newspapers are often 
hurried and nearly always [we find?] that they like 
brevity, variety, and topics of wide interest that they 
are much more likely to read a one-column letter than 
one of two columns, and that even when the limit is 
fixed at a column it is best, as the candid churchgoer 
said to his parson, to err on the side of mercy. 

If you can adopt this suggestion, I think you will 
agree with me that there would then be less occasion 
for a change in the rate of payment. 

You must not imagine that any of us have failed to 
appreciate the admirable work you have done for us. 
The difficulty has sometimes been not that it was too 
good, but that it was magazine rather than newspaper 

Very truly yours, 




Dear Mr. Reid : 

I have just received your letter of August 10th. I 
quite appreciate what you say about the character of 
my letters, and about their not being the right sort of 
thing for a newspaper. I have been half expecting to 
hear from you to that effect. I myself had wondered 
whether you could make room for them during the 
present and coming time at home, and I can easily 
imagine that the general reader should feel indisposed 
to give the time requisite for reading them. They would, 
as you say, be more in place in a magazine. But I am 
afraid I can't assent to your proposal that I should try 
and write otherwise. I know the sort of letter you mean 
it is doubtless the proper sort of thing for the 
Tribune to have. But I can't produce it I don't know 
how and I couldn't learn how. It would cost me really 
more trouble than to write as I have been doing (which 
comes tolerably easy to me) and it would be poor econ- 
omy for me to try and become "newsy" and gossipy. I 
am too finical a writer and I should be constantly be- 
coming more "literary" than is desirable. To resist this 
tendency would be rowing upstream and would take 
much time and pains. If my letters have been "too 
good" I am honestly afraid that they are the poorest I 
can do, especially for the money ! I had better, there- 


Parisian Sketches 

fore, suspend them altogether, I have enjoyed writing 
them,, however, and if the Tribune has not been the 
better for them I hope it has not been too much the 
worse. I shall doubtless have sooner or later a discreet 
successor. Believe me, with the best wishes, 

Yours very truly 

DILLY, DECEMBER 21, 1876.] 

My dear Mr. Reid : 

I have just received your draft upon Paris for three 
hundred francs, for which I am much obliged and which 
it has been no inconvenience to wait for. 

I have transferred myself, you will see by my date, 
to London, whence I sometimes wish there were an oc- 
casional pretext for writing to the Tribune. But with 
Mr. Smalley here there of course can be none whatever. 
I have seen him and he has been very kind to me. 

Yours very truly 


Whitelaw Reid to his secretary: Miss Hutchinson: 
Do you think he can do a clever piece of work for us 
now and then? W. R. 


Reply: Mr. Reid: I don't know how to form a judg- 
ment about this. Excuse me. M. H. 


Dear Mr. James : 

I wish I saw how I could avail myself of the infor- 
mation contained in your pleasant note of 21st De- 
cember, by asking you for a hand on letters now and 
then on some particular point. The truth is, however, 
that our Mr. Smalley covers the field fully and fur- 
nishes so much copy that we find it pretty hard to 
make room for our other correspondence. 

Still don't forget the Tribune if you have a chance 
to do something in our line. 

I have ventured to [become?] a little personal about 
your movements, which I hope will not [touch?] too 
far upon your private life, or seem disagreeable. 

Very truly yours, 

DILLY, W. 5 FEBRUARY 2, 1877.] 

My dear Mr. Reid : 

Your note of January 16th came to me a couple of 
days since. My allusion to occasionally sending you 
something from London was merely pro forma; I know 
too well how little, both in quantity and quality, in the 


Parisian Sketches 

way of correspondence Mr. Smalley leaves to be de- 
sired. I am very well occupied and shall probably not 
soon (in London, at least) feel justified in sending you 
anything save my good wishes. I have not seen the 
paragraph (personal) to which you allude ; but I think 
I can rest in the confidence that it does me no undue 

Yours very truly 


25TH ST., SUNDAY P.M. [18 DECEMBER 1881?]] 

Dear Mr. Reid: 

I have delayed writing to you till this evening in 
answer to your friendly note, in order that I might he 
a little more clear in mind as to the number of days to 
which my present stay in New York is to extend. I 
hope very much my delay has not brought you incon- 
venience especially as I am obliged to say to you that 
I am. afraid I shall be leaving town (for Christmas) too 
soon to have the pleasure of dining with you. My pres- 
ent plan is to go on Thursday next to Cambridge, to 
spend the festival just mentioned, at my father's, 
and remain there for several days. How long I shall 
be in New York on my return (as I am going to 
Washington) I don't know as yet; but if it should 
be for an appreciable time it will give me great pleas- 
ure to let you know, and name a day, as you pro- 


pose. I don't propose one before that, as I am dining 
out continuously until Thursday evening inclusive 
and am very sorry to be able just now to do so little 
honour to your hospitality. But I shall not fail later, 
if the occasion comes. Meanwhile I send kind regards 
to Mrs. Reid, and remain with many thanks very truly 


BRIDGE, MASS., DEC. 26TH [1881].] 

Dear Mr. Reid: 

I am sure, just now, of being in New York only on 
Saturday and Sunday next or I should perhaps say 
of being there disengaged, for I return thither from 
this place on Wednesday. On Saturday or Sunday I 
shall be very happy to dine with you, and if you will 
send me a word (to 115 East 25th St.) saying which 
of these days (if either is open to you) you prefer, I 
will hold the engagement sacred. I am not to be at 
Godkins (who has gone, till Monday next, to Cincin- 
nati) but don't know at what hotel I shall be able to 
lodge. I owe you as usual an apology for delay 
caused also as usual by my uncertainty from day to 
day as to my comings, goings, and stayings. With all 
the good wishes of the season to yourself and Mrs. Reid, 
believe me very truly yours 


Parisian Sketches 


25TH STREET, DECEMBER 29, 1881.] 

Dear Mr. Reid: 

I this moment find your note, and will with pleasure 
present myself on Saturday at seven. With kind re- 

Very truly yours 

ST., JULY 22, 1883.] 

Dear Mr. Reid: 

I wonder if it would be in your power to direct a 
slight service to be performed for my advantage? If 
this is the case I shall be very grateful. 

Several years ago in the winter, spring, and sum- 
mer of 1876 I wrote from Paris certain letters some 
dozen in all, I suppose, to the Tribune. The question 
has come up of my collecting into a volume various 
sketches of travel that I have produced during the last 
ten years; and it occurs to me that in this collection 
portions of those letters may be adapted to figure. But 
I haven't the articles themselves they are buried, so 
far as I have kept them, in the interstices of a heap of 
luggage that I have stowed away in Europe. Might 

884 ' 


this appeal to you have the result of supplying the 
void? In other words, are the back numbers of the 
Tribune, as far back as 1876, preserved at the office, 
and would it be in your power to ask one of your myr- 
midons to search among them for those that contain 
my letters? I don't want all of them, but as I am un- 
able to specify, it would be well, I am afraid, that all 
of them should, if possible, be sent. They are comprised 
within the said year 1876, and are in almost all cases, 
I think, surmounted with my name. For any trouble 
connected with this undertaking I should be much your 
debtor, even if it should not prove wholly fruitful. I 
have been in America these seven months, but only a 
few days in New York or I should have seen you. I have 
been detained in this place, and am still detained by 
family aff airs. I beg to be kindly recalled to Mrs. Reid, 
and am very truly yours 


ST., JULY 27, 1883.] 

Dear Mr. Reid: 

I thank you kindly for your note of the 24th in re- 
gard to my old letters in the Tribune and for the in- 
formation you caused to be collected for me on the sub- 
ject. This information is valuable and helps to solve 
my difficulty. You are so good as to say that it would 

Parisian Sketches 

be in your power to have such of the letters as I should 
wish, copied for me in the office. I shall take the liberty 
of profiting by this offer and asking you to please di- 
rect three of them to be transcribed the only ones I 
desire. When the copies are sent me, be so good as to 
order that a note of the cost be sent with them that I 
may transmit to the office the sum. I subjoin the three 
dates and remain 

Very truly yours 

Tribune, 1876: April 29, August 12, 26. 

To the copyist. Please leave a considerable margin. 

8, 1883.] 

Dear Mr. Reid : 

Your note of the 1st was last night forwarded to me 
from Boston, having been kept there for some days, 
with many other letters, while I was moving from one 
place to another. It was accompanied by the three let- 
ters from the Tribivne, in the original text and most 
neatly and conveniently arranged. I thank you ex- 
tremely for the attention you have given to my request, 
and I am especially indebted to the ingenious young 
Drury, whose researches were so brilliantly conducted. 
Will you please cause him to be assured of my thanks 
and direct that the enclosed note ($5.00) be delivered 



to him for his trouble in looking up the papers? I hope 
you are not personally in New York, in this fine sum- 
mer weather, as much as you are officially. 

Very faithfully yours 



1 Marie Celine Chaumont (1848(?)-1926) began her stage 
career at eleven at the Theatre Moliere. She appeared first in 
comedies , playing the child's role in L'Ami des Femmes by 
Dumas fils in 1864 at the Gymnase. In 1869 she gave tip 
comedy for operetta at the Bouffes-Parisiens. 

2 The old Paris Opera had been destroyed by fire. The new 
building the one seen by visitors to Paris today was opened 
on January 5, 1865. Its architect, Jean-Joseph Garnier (also 
designer of the casino of Monte Carlo), had labored for four- 
teen years on the edifice. 

s James is referring to the panic of 1873, precipitated by 
the failure of Jay Cooke, financier of the Northern Pacific 
Railroad. It lasted five years and brought drastic mercantile 

4 During 1871-1875, the steps leading toward the adoption 
of constitutional laws establishing the form of republican gov- 
ernment in France were of extreme national and international 
importance, for they determined the future of modern France. 
The Third Republic (which lasted until the German invasion 
of France in World War II) had been officially proclaimed 
in 1870, following the collapse of the government of Napo- 
leon III. For several years it had functioned without a con- 
stitution, but now the groundwork for permanent government 
was being laid. 

5 Alexandre Dumas fils (1824-1895), natural son of Ale- 
xandre Dumas p&re (1803-1870), achieved fame with La 
Dame aux Camillas (1852), one of the great stage successes 
of the second half of the nineteenth century. His subsequent 

Parisian Sketches 

plays (including L'Etrangere') espoused conventional morality. 
The psychological orientation of Dumas' work, reflecting an 
unhappy childhood spent in the demimonde atmosphere fre- 
quented by his father , was alien to James, who often criti- 
cized Dumas' choice of subject matter. 

6 The order of the six leading Parisian newspapers in point 
of circulation, as estimated in 1858, was: Siecle, Presse, Con- 
stitutionnel, Patrie, Debats, and Assemblee. In 1878 the total 
number of journals of all kinds published in France was 
2,200. Le Figaro had a circulation of about 70,000. 

7 Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) came into prominence 
about I860, with a succession of satirical comedies. Later he 
turned to historical melodramas, many written for Sarah 
Bernhardt. He was elected to the French Academy in 1878. 
Highly prolific, he was for James a symbol of artistic clever- 
ness in the invidious sense of the word. Ferreol was produced 
at the Gymnase Theater on December 17, 1875. 

8 Ambroise Thomas (18111896). His Hamlet was first 
produced at the Opera on March 9, 1868. The title role was 
originally cast for a tenor, but the Opera had no one capable 
of creating the part. Thomas, accordingly, changed the music 
to suit a baritone and Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830-1914) 
achieved great renown in the role. Mme. Carvalho (Marie 
Miolan), soprano, who played the female lead, was known 
for her grace and finish. 

9 Luca Giordano (1632-1705) painted the ceiling decora- 
tion in the Palazzo Medici. 

10 Paul Baudry (1828-1886). His decorations of the Grand 
Opera are regarded as his greatest work. The scheme com- 
prises thirty-three large separate compositions. In size and 
completeness it was the most important decorative enterprise 
carried out by one man since the great days of the Renais- 

"Ernesto Rossi (1827-1896) was the first Italian actor 
to play Shakespeare's Othello (in 1856) before Paris audi- 

* 230 


ences. He was much admired in France and Germany. His 
style of acting was never acceptable in England or America 
and James's doubts about Rossi's reception in the United 
States proved accurate. 

12 Fred6ric Lemaitre (1800-1876). His power and bril- 
liance were legendary, and his performance in the title role 
of Kean was still within memory. 


1 Louis Barye (1796-1875) was exceptionally popular in 
America, more so, even, than in France. The Walters Museum 
at Baltimore kept a specimen (received from Barye himself) 
of every work he produced; the Corcoran Gallery at Wash- 
ington had a full collection, and the chief contribution for a 
posthumous exhibition and monument to Barye came from 
American supporters. James's designation of a liking for 
Barye' s work as the sign of "not ... a refined, but at least 
an enterprising taste," offended some of Barye's admirers and 
a letter protesting James's harsh judgment of the animal 
miniatures was published in the Tribune January 22, 1876. 
Barye seems to have been a model for James's "cats and mon- 
keys" man in "The Madonna of the Future," the vulgar artist 
whose "expressive little brutes" were "revolting" in their 
"imitative felicity." 

2 Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875). Carpeaux's group, 
"La Danse," created such a furor when first installed in the 
Opera house that it was ordered removed. Attempted mu- 
tilation of the group by incensed Parisians and the death of 
Carpeaux, which followed shortly thereafter, caused a shift 
in public opinion out of respect for the sculptor, and the 
work was left standing. The objections to it were on the 
grounds of its realism. James's description of "poor, lean 

Parisian Sketches 

individual bodies . . . pitifully real," resembling "the un- 
dressed lady and gentleman ... as distinguished from the 
unconsciously naked heroes and heroines of Greek art/' re- 
veals him to be almost as uncomfortable in the presence of 
Carpeaux's figures as the French at first were. 

s The Od6on Theater opened originally on May 20, 1797. 
It frequently changed its name, being the Theatre de Tlm- 
peratrice from 1805-1815, the Theatre Royal under three 
kings, the Imperial, under Napoleon III, and today again the 
Odeon and the second national theater. The present building 
opened in 1819. 

4 The bust of Voltaire in the Theatre Fran9ais was by Jean- 
Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) ; the pieces on exhibition in the 
redecorated Ode'on Theater were by fimile-Auguste Carolus- 
Duran (1838-1917); Alexander Schoenewerk (1820-1885); 
Henri Chapu (1833-1891); and Albert-Ernest Carrier de 
Belleuse who signed himself Carrier (1824-1887). 

5 Pauline Virginie Dejazet (1797-1875) first appeared as 
a child actress and played in Paris and in the provinces. From 
1831 she was chiefly associated with the Palais Royal. 


1 The election of the permanent senators marked the be- 
ginning of a republican majority in the chamber. President 
MacMahon had been chosen by the monarchical Right; thus 
the "victory of the Left" (of the republicans) in the election 
was indeed "dramatic." It forced MacMahon to follow a re- 
publican policy and to select a ministry from the Left Center. 

2 Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893), the French critic and his- 
torian, became famous with his Revue de I'Instruction Pu- 
blique (1855-1856), a series of articles attacking the French 
philosophers of the early 19th century and setting forth a 



system in which the methods of the exact sciences were ap- 
plied to psychological and metaphysical research. In 1864 
Taine was made professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a 
position which he held for twenty years. His Histoire de la 
Litterature Anglaise, in which his deterministic views were 
set forth in uncompromising fashion, appeared in 1863. 
Shocked by the French disasters of 1870-1871, he started to 
apply his analytical methods to the history of his own coun- 
try. The first volume of Les Origines de la France Con- 
temporaine, begun in 1871, was therefore eagerly awaited. 
James's dismissal of Taine's philosophic ideas is an interest- 
ing reflection of his American intellectual orientation. Les 
Origines has often been admired for its vigor of style, but 
from the French point of view its importance was ideological; 
it confronted the public with a criticism of the philosophical 
abstractions upon which the men of the eighteenth century 
had built their society and which were still widely current. 
James had reviewed Taine's work four times previously, in 
the Nation and the Atlantic Monthly. 


1 Ernest Meissonier (18151891) won great acclaim the 
world over for his early genre paintings, characterized by 
their incredible minuteness of detail. Meissonier was extremely 
nearsighted and his inability to visualize objects at a dis- 
tance probably explains his notable lack of success in large 
historical canvases, "1807," which ultimately found a home 
at the Metropolitan Museum, is judged by critics as among 
the poorest of Meissonier 's efforts in this line. 

2 Alexander Stewart (1803-1876) was an American mer- 
chant who founded the dry goods business which gradually 
became one of the largest mercantile organizations in the 
world. He was at one time considered the wealthiest man in 

- 288 

Parisian Sketches 

the United States and attracted much attention by the lavish- 
ness of his donations to charitable institutions and his ex- 
penditures for objets d'art. 

8 Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890) was the English con- 
noisseur whose great collection is now housed in Hertford 
House, London. During the years 1873-1885 he lived mostly 
in Paris. 

* James's recollection of the date of the battle of Eylau is 
correct: it was fought in the snow on February 8, 1807. 


1 The famous actors named here are : Fra^ois Joseph 
Talma (1763-1826) ; Anne Francoise Hippolyte (Mile. Mars) 
(1787-1867); Marie Thomas Amelie Delaunay (Mile. Dor- 
val) (1798-1849); filisa Felix (Rachel) (1820-1858); and 
Antoine Louis Prosper (Frederic Lemaitre) (1800-1876). 

2 Rose Cheri (1824-1861) played many parts ir^ the plays 
of Augier and Dumas fils, chiefly at the Gymnase. Aimee 
Olympe Desclee (18361874) also won fame through Dumas 
fls, playing the lead in Frou-Frou. She was particularly good 
as the heroine in Fisite de Noces (1871) and La Femme de 
Claude (1873). She died suddenly, at the height of her suc- 
cess, in 1874. James saw her during his boyhood when the 
James family resided for a time in Paris. See James's A 
Small Boy and Others (1913), Chapter XXVI. 

3 Henry Irving' s production of Macbeth took place at the 
Lyceum on September 18, 1875. Charles Kemble (1775- 
1854), who first played in Macbeth as Malcolm at seventeen, 
was regarded as more suited for poetic drama than for 
tragedy, excelling in such roles as Mercutio, Benedick, and 
Romeo. Edmund Kean (1787-1833) was noted for his strong 
imaginative appeal in parts which had a touch of malign or 
murderous frenzy Shylock, lago, Othello, and Macbeth, all 



of which he rendered with a passion verging on extravagance. 

4 Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) composed sixty-five op- 
erettas in twenty-five years, of which the most popular, dur- 
ing the period of James's stay in Paris, were La Vie Parisi- 
enne (1866), Barbe Bleue (1866), and La Grande Duchesse 
de Gerolstein (1867). Alexandra Lecocq (1832-1918), also 
prolific, was most successful with La Fille de Madame Angot 
(1873), which was performed 400 nights consecutively. 
Among the numerous hits of Herve (Florimond Ronge) 
(1825-1892) the most popular was I'Oeuil Creve. 

6 In La Cruche Cassee, a comic opera by Noirac and 
Moineaux, with music by Vasseur, Celine Chaumont played 
the part of Colette. 

6 Anna Marie Louise Judic (1849-1911) joined the Bouffes- 
Parisiens in 1872 and soon became the leading lady of opera 
bouffe* In La Creole, a comic opera with music by Jacques 
Offenbach, she played the part of Zoe. 

7 James evidently enjoyed Rossi more as Kean than as Mac- 
beth. (See Letter 1.) 

8 Gustave Hippolyte Worms (18371910) began his career 
at the Theatre Fran9ais, where he remained for seven years. 
He then went to Russia for ten years and on his return in 
1875 was a great success at the Gymnase, fimile Zola shared 
James's enthusiasm for Worms, especially admiring his im- 
position of realism upon romanticism in his acting technique. 

Louis-Arsene Delaunay (1826-1903) was a seasoned 
actor, having first appeared at the Odeon in 1846. From, 1848 
he had been with the Th6atre Fran9ais. 

10 Petite Pluie, a comedy by Edmond Pailleron, was first 
produced at the Theatre Fran$ais December 4, 1875. 

11 Jeanne Arnould-Plessy (1819-1897) first appeared at 
the Th6atre Frangais in 1834 and became a sociStaire within 
the year. In 1845 she left Paris to marry J. F. Arnould, a 
dramatist, in London. For ten years she played with brilliant 
success in St. Petersburg. She returned to the Theatre Fran- 


Parisian Sketches 

9ais in 1855 (as a pensionnaire}. Her farewell performance 
took place on May 8, 1876. 

"The Varietes was first opened in 1807. The present 
building bearing this name is situated at 7, Boulevard Mont- 
martre. The original Palais Royal opened in 1831; in 1848 
it became the Theatre de Montansier, reverting to the name 
of Palais Royal in 1852. It was almost completely rebuilt in 

18 Le Panache was a comedy in three acts by Edmond 
Gondinet, first produced at the Palais Royal Theater on Oc- 
tober 12, 1875. 

14 Les Scandales d'Hier, a comedy in three acts by Theo- 
dore Barriere, was first produced at the Vaudeville Theater, 
Paris, on November 15, 1875, with Blanche Pierson (1842- 
1919) and Pierre Berton (1843-1912) in the cast. 


1 In the first general elections held under the new consti- 
tution in February 1876, the Republican party, hitherto united 
under the leadership of Gambetta in a common front against 
both Royalists and Bonapartists, split into halves. The mod- 
erate wing, whose aim was to adopt a political and parlia- 
mentary method which consisted in limiting the scope of re- 
forms and avoiding disruptive issues, dissociated itself from 
the Radicals, the wing that was demanding rapid reforms. 
The parties on the right consisted of the Royalists, Legiti- 
mates, Orleanists, and the Bonapartists. Throughout the for- 
mative period of the parliamentary republic, whenever diverse 
issues split public opinion, this cleavage was reflected in a 
variety of changed alignments of factions in the multiparty 
system. Every ministry had to be a coalition of several groups, 
and being based on only a limited area of agreement, tended 

236 ' 


to be short-lived and to collapse as soon as one or two mar- 
ginal elements deserted it. 

2 Louis (Joseph) Buffet (1818-1898) was president of the 
Assembly, 1872-1875. He was Minister of the Interior and 
vice-president of the Council from March 1875 to February 
23, 1876, 

8 James gained admittance to several coteries in Paris. His 
comments on them, therefore, reflect personal experience. He 
had been taken by Turgenev to Flaubert's Sunday afternoons, 
where he met Zola, Daudet, Maupassant, and Edmond de 
Goncourt. In other coteries he was meeting Renan and the 
French critic, Scherer. 

4 James's reference to "Mr. A. and Mr. X." echoes his ex- 
clamation to Thomas Sergeant Perry in a letter on February 
3, 1876: "You should hear the tone which these gentlemen 
take in regard to Cherbuliez and Droz." Gustave Droz, a 
minor novelist whom James had reviewed sympathetically in 
1871 and still admired, was ridiculed mercilessly by the real- 
ists of Flaubert's circle. 

5 The Commune was of very recent memory. It had orig- 
inated in Paris in 1871. Led by a small but active class of 
professional revolutionaries, it was precipitated by a sense 
of civic outrage when German troops marched down the 
Champs lyse*es and when it became known that the national 
assembly had decided to locate in Versailles rather than in 
Paris. The uprising, which appealed to the traditions of 1793, 
failed, Thiers's government retook the city and the repression 
which followed virtually destroyed the revolutionary parties. 

6 Marie Edm6 Patrice Maurice de MacMahon (1808-1893). 
On the resignation of Thiers in 1873, Marshal MacMahon 
was elected president by an almost unanimous vote. His term 
of office was set at seven years. The president was more 
popular in the rural districts of France than in Paris and 
other large cities, where criticism of Republican ideas found 
more open expression in the press. 

- 237 

Parisian Sketches 

7 Les Danicheff, a comedy in four acts by Pierre Newsky 
(Petr Corvin de Krukovskoi) and Alexandre Dumas fits, was 
first produced at the Odeon on January 8, 1876. 

8 Ernesto Rossi's Romeo was widely extolled. It was gen- 
erally regarded as more suited to his talents than the great 
tragic roles, allowing more opportunity for the expression of 
his fervor and romanticism. 


1 Victor Hugo (1802-1885), leader of the French Romantic 
movement as poet and novelist, first entered political life after 
the Revolution of 1848. From the beginning he showed him- 
self to be poor in politics, indulging in such bombastic rhetoric 
that even his fellows in the House of Peers did not take him 
seriously. When he stood for the presidency of the Republic 
after 1848, he obtained very few votes. He spent the years 
1851-1870 in exile. His re-entry into the political life of his 
country during his last years (1870-1885) was more as a 
symbol than as an effective agent. He was at the height of 
his literary fame, but the idolatry of his worshipers was 
counterbalanced by a reaction against his bad qualities his 
vulgarity, his intellectual thinness, and his blatant egoism. 
Elected to the Senate, as James notes, he nevertheless took 
no part in the debates. James had reviewed Hugo's writings 
previously in the Nation, reacting so strongly against Hugo's 
verbosity that he felt it necessary to admonish himself against 
undue severity. 

2 La Timbale d" Argent, opera bouffe, words by Jaime and 
Noriac, music by Vasseur. Played at the Lyceum Theater 
with Mile. Aimee in the lead. La Petite Mariee, comic opera 
in three acts by E. Leterrier, music by Lecocq. 

8 Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869), poet and politician, 
was best known for his Meditations Poetiques (1820), reflec- 



live poems of a religious and mystical cast. He took an active 
part in the administration and politics of his country, being 
for a short time (in 1848) head of the provisional govern- 

4 Marie Favart (Pierette Ignace Pingaud) (1833-1908) 
was engaged at the Theatre Frangais, where she became so- 
cietaire in 1854. 

c Jean Mounet-Sully (1841-1916), tragedian, was engaged 
at the Theatre Frangais in 1872, where he won fame in An- 
dromaque and Le Cid. He became societaire in 1873. He 
played leading roles in I'Etrangere, Hernani, Ruy Bias, An- 
tigone, and other classical works. 

6 Ernest Legouve (1807-1903) was the French dramatist 
who wrote Medee (1855), which gave Ristori a notable part 
and which led to Legouve's election to the French Academy. 
In middle and late life (he was almost seventy when James 
heard him) he devoted his energies largely to lecturing and 
propagandizing for women's rights and children's education, 
in both of which movements he was a French pioneer. Legouve 
was an advocate of physical training, was well known as a 
fencer, and was long regarded as one of the best shots in 

7 James seems to have had Emerson in mind, among Amer- 
ican lecturers, and perhaps his own father, for he heard 
Emerson at the Music Hall and Henry James Sr. spoke at 
Cooper Union. 

8 Francisque Sarcey (18281889), dramatic critic for the 
Temps, whose criticism James admired, published a number 
of volumes on the contemporary theater. He favored formal 
tradition in acting and supremacy of plot in the construction 
of stage plays. He was a master of the art of informal lec- 
ture. James's estimate of ten minutes' preparation for a lec- 
ture probably undercalculates the effort given by Sarcey to 
an art form which he developed on the principles of Cicero's 

Parisian Sketches 

De Oratore. Sarcey discussed the techniques of his lecture 
method in Recollections of Middle Life (1893). 

9 James adapted this amusing anecdote in his novel, The 
American, which he was writing at this time. "What sort of 
a husband can you get for twelve thousand francs ?" asks the 
little copyist Noemie Nioche of the American,, Christopher 

10 Isidore Pils (1813-1875). The biographical data for 
James's sketch of Pils seem to have been drawn from Becq 
de Fouquieres' Isidore Alexandrin Augustin Pils, Sa Fie et 
Son Oeuvre, Paris, 1876. 

11 Horace Vernet (1758-1836), to whom James compares 
Pils, was best known for his Triumph of Paulus Aemilius 
(1789), especially for his rendering of the horses in that 
painting. Two of his best-known military pictures are "Battle 
of Marengo" (1804) and "Morning of Austerlitz" (1808). 

12 (Jean) Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864), historical and 
portrait painter, was noted for the moral perceptiveness of 
his portrait work; Jean Fra^ois Millet (1814-1875) was the 
genre painter whose representations of peasant life were 
painted with simple, earnest feeling and a comprehension 
of its pathos such as few painters have ever attained. 

18 Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix (1799-1863) won 
his reputation with exhibition of his "Dante and Virgil" in 
1822. The early work referred to by James, "Death of 
Sardanapalus" is usually dated 1827. 


1 Louis Blanc (1811-1882), publicist and politician, au- 
thor of Histoire de la Revolution Frangaise* 

2 Desire" Barodet (1823-1906) entered public life in 1870 
as an extreme Republican. 



3 L6on Gambetta (1838-1882), originally a lawyer, became 
famous in 1868 for his defense of the journalist Delescluze, 
which he turned into an attack upon the coup d'etat of 1851. 
He was first elected to the Assembly in 1869. He rendered 
heroic service during the crucial years, 1869-1871, and after 
a brief period of strategic retirement in Spain, returned to 
France to agitate for the definitive establishment of the Re- 
public. His parliamentary dexterity and eloquence secured 
the voting of the constitution in February, 1875. To his policy 
of moderation he gave the name of "opportunism." His anti- 
clericalism was launched to counteract the political intrigues 
for the restoration of the temporal power of the Pope. 

* James brought to the Catholic University issue a typically 
American point of view. The problem was "peculiarly diffi- 
cult," as he acknowledged, but it does not appear that James 
fully understood how much more difficult such a question was 
in a context of European politics than of American. His- 
torical evidence shows that as the Royalists came to sponsor 
the cause of the Church more actively, the ultramontane cleri- 
cals were trusting that restoration of the monarchy would 
secure them an influence over policy which was denied them 
by the Republicans. The Church was not only competing in 
the matter of education, but was trying to make France the 
defender of papal interests against the new Italian kingdom 
and against Bismarck's Kulturkampf in Germany. The tra- 
dition of hostility between Church and republic and the ex- 
tent of clerical power in France made protraction of the 
strife for two more decades inevitable. James was thinking 
both about the ultimate solution of the problem and the im- 
mediate politically-involved question. 

c "Superior instruction" is one of a number of Gallicisms 
to be found in the Tribune letters. James was translating 
rinstruction superieure literally. Obviously "higher educa- 
tion" would have been more accurate. 

841 ' 

Parisian Sketches 

6 James was more intimately acquainted with monarchist 
than with radical intemperance. To Alice James, on February 
22, 1876, he wrote: "I see none but ardent Monarchists and 
hear everything vile said about the Republic." The evening 
on which he was in a room into which M. Buffet entered was 
either during a visit to the salon of the Marquise de Bloque- 
ville or at a reception held by the Due d'Aumale, which he 
attended January 25. 

7 fimile de Girardin (1802-1881), French publicist, founder 
of La Presse and La Liberte. His most successful coup was 
the purchase of Le Petit Journal. 

8 Georges Lachaud (1846-1896), a Bonapartist, defended 
the Empire in Essai sur la Dictature (1875), L'Empire 
(1877), and other writings. 

9 Fran9ois Jules Edmond Got (1882-1901) entered the 
Conservatoire in 1841 and gained first prize for comedy in 
1843. He appeared at the Theatre Fran$ais in 1844 and be- 
came societaire in 1850. He retired in 1895. The play in 
which James saw Got, Maitre Patelin f was an adaptation of 
the 15th century farce by Roger Allard. 


1 The exact occasion of this discussion is revealed in an 
unpublished letter to Alice James, February 22: "I went for 
an hour to Flaubert's . . . they were talking about the great 
theatrical event, Alexandre Dumas' L*trangere , . . they all 
detest Dumas very properly, and predict for him a great 
fiasco before long." 

2 Sarah Bernhardt (Sarah Henriette Rosine) (1845-1923) 
began her training for the stage at thirteen, and in 1862 made 
her first appearance at the Theatre Fra^ais. In 1872, at the 
Fran9ais, she triumphed in King Lear and Ruy Bias, and 



shortly thereafter in Hernani, She set out on her travels, 
making her first appearance in London in 1879 in Phedre 
and in New York in 1880 in Adrienne Lecouvreur. James's 
designation of her as "that very interesting actress" is notable 
for its lack of enthusiasm. He was always critical of her as 
being an excessively histrionic personality. 

3 Benoit Constant Coquelin (1841-1909) entered the Thea- 
tre Fran9ais in I860, becoming societaire in 1864. He re- 
mained with the Fran9ais until 1886, shortly before begin- 
ning a tour of Europe and America. James, who had been a 
schoolmate of his at Boulogne-sur-Mer in the late 1850's, de- 
voted an article to him in the Century Magazine, It was 
Coquelin who created the part of Cyrano de Bergerac in 
Rostand's poetic drama. He was one of the actors in France 
most admired by the novelist. 

* Sophie Alexandrine Croizette (1848-1901) was born in 
Russia. She entered the Conservatoire in 1867, studied under 
Bressant, and won first prize for comedy in 1869. She ap- 
peared at the Theatre Fran9ais in 1870 and was elected 
societaire in 1873. 

B Alexandre-Fr6deric Febvre (1835-1916) played in sev- 
eral Paris theaters before joining the Theatre Fran9ais in 
1866. He became societaire in 1867 and retired in 1894. 

6 Marie Camargo (1710-1770) was the great French bal- 
lerina for whom Lecocq wrote the opera Camargo and for 
whom Petipa staged a ballet, Camargo (1872), to music by 
Minkus. Carlotta Grisi (1821-1899), famous Italian ballerina 
of the Romantic period, was the creator of the role of Giselle. 


l John Lemoinne (1815-1892). Besides his writings for 
various journals (Journal des Debate, Le Matin) , Lemoinne 
wrote many critical studies. 


Parisian Sketches 

2 Jules Janin (1804-1874), novelist, critic, and journalist, 
made his chief bid for fame with his collected dramatic criti- 
cism from the Journal des Debats (1858), under the title, 
"Histoire de la Litterature Dramatique." He was called in 
his time "the prince of critics," hut James's charge of super- 
ficiality has also found its way into the annals : "II ne man- 
quait pas d'esprit, et il avait parfois de la delicatesse, de la 
grace; mats, en revanche, on ne trouve chess lui aucun principe, 
ni meme aucune suite" (Larousse du XX. Siecle^). 

a The extent to which the French Academy has represented 
the best literary life is an often-debated question. In the nine- 
teenth century, for example, considerations of various kinds 
excluded such notables as Proudhon, Comte, B Granger, Sten- 
dhal, Balzac, Gautier, Flaubert, Zola, the brothers Goncourt, 
Maupassant, Daudet, and even such academic writers as 
Thierry, Michelet, and Quinet. 

4 When James accepted the contract to write the Tribune 
letters, he requested that "any heading prefixed to the letter 
will be as brief and simple as possible." He said nothing 
about the use of subheadings for sections of letters, but his 
aversion to these was equally strong. The practice of break- 
ing James's text with subheads was first begun in this letter. 
On April 23 James wrote to Whitelaw Reid ". . . a most 
earnest and urgent request that the practice ... be not con- 
tinued. I object to it in the strongest possible manner and I 
entreat and beseech you to cause it to be suppressed. . . /' 
His dislike of headlines and large type finds frequent expres- 
sion in his fiction. 

5 The image of "the cracked vessel and the sound" was to 
figure in The Portrait of a Lady and to be of the essence in 
The Golden BowL 

*Jean Leon G6rome (1824-1904), history and genre 
painter, was the pupil of Paul Delaroche and Charles Gleyre. 
After studying in Italy, he visited Russia and Egypt in search 



of new subjects. His range was wide and included many in- 
terpretations of ancient history and myth,, as well as con- 
temporary themes. 

7 Albert Delpit (1849-1893) was a French playwright, 
American by birth, whose second drama was the one James 
saw and described so amusingly. It had been originally per- 
formed at the Theatre Historique in 1873. The play aroused 
among French critics the same mockery to be found in James's 
precis some suggested that Lincoln would never have be- 
come known had it not been for his dramatic assassination. 
Delpit wrote prolifically, as journalist, novelist, poet, and 

8 Victor Tissot (184*5-1917) was a Swiss, educated in 
Tuebingen and Vienna. He came to Paris in 1867 and estab- 
lished himself as a journalist. Following a visit to Germany, 
he wrote the two books mentioned by James which became 
instantaneous best sellers, both expressions (as James accu- 
rately puts it) of 'Teutophobia" : Voyage au Pays des Mil- 
liards (1875) and Les Prussians en Allemagne (1876). 

9 The "gentleman of Germanic sympathies" of whom James 
spoke was probably Baron Holstein, secretary of the German 
Embassy, with whom James dined on a number of occasions 
during his winter in Paris and whom he described in a letter 
home as "one of the most acute and intelligent men I have 
ever met." 


1 Alexandre Gabriel Decamps (1803-1860), landscape and 
genre painter, became one of the leaders of the modern 
French Eomantic school. In 1827, traveling to Greece, Con^ 
stantinople, and Asia Minor, he formed a lasting predilection 
for oriental subj ects, which he treated with consummate power 
and skill. The directions taken by the evolution of modern 


Parisian Sketches 

painting have resulted in an undervaluing of Decamps' tech- 
nical mastery, the subjects through which he expressed him- 
self no longer arousing wide artistic interest. 

2 Pierre-fitienne Rousseau (1812-1867), founder of the 
modern French school of landscape painting, was noted espe- 
cially for his ability to render atmospheric effects. 

3 Prosper-Georges-Antoine Marilhat (1811-1847) traveled 
in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, finding his subjects in the 
caravans and oases of the desert and in the streets of oriental 
villages. In Cairo, he painted portraits, notably that of Me- 
hemet-Ali. He had achieved great fame by the time of his 
premature death. 

4 The problem of the Khedive shares was much in the head- 
lines at this time. The Khedive, Ismail Pasha, a semi-inde- 
pendent ruler in Egypt, had been fantastically reckless in his 
personal and state expenses, and in thirteen years had in- 
creased the national debt from about 3,000,000 to 100,- 
000,000. Most of his money had been derived from bonds sold 
chiefly to French and English investors. He replaced his Eng- 
lish adviser, Charles Gordon, by an incapable Egyptian, and 
both the Sudan and Egypt were rapidly going bankrupt. In 
1876 the Khedive suspended payment of debts and France 
insisted on a commission which would receive directly a part 
of the national income for the benefit of bondholders without 
going through the hands of corrupt officials. The British even- 
tually joined the French in this commission. 

5 Jacques Raymond Brascassat (1804-1867) preceded Rosa 
Bonheur (18221899) in reviving the painting of animals, to 
which he devoted himself almost exclusively after 1831. He 
became a vogue with rich collectors but was never so well 
known as Rosa Bonheur, whose fame was so great that dur- 
ing the Franco-Prussian War her studio and residence were 
respected by special order of the Crown Prince of Prussia. 

Paul Potter (1625-1654), early Dutch animal painter, 



was noted for the accuracy and objectivity of his paintings 
of horses and cattle. 

7 Ernest Baillet was the pupil of Saunier rather than 
Breton. He was born in Brest. He exhibited in salons from 
1877 to 1897, painting mostly the landscapes and peasants 
of Brittany. 

8 Jean Boldini (1842-1931), an artist who began his study 
in Florence and who settled in Paris around 1872, was at this 
time beginning a notable career. Most of his honors (two 
grand prizes at the International Expositions of 1889 and 
1900, and the Legion of Honor) still lay before him. He was 
primarily a portrait painter, whose work is distinguished for 
the feeling of intensity of life created in his characters. 

9 Any book by Ernest Renan (1823-1892) was an event of 
the first literary importance on the Parisian scene. Renan had 
won the Prix Volney in 1847 (at the age of twenty- four) 
for his general history of Semitic languages. In the years 
following he undertook the study of the relation of the intel- 
lectual elite to democracy, becoming the philosopher to articu- 
late most successfully the ideal of the intellectual life. From 
1857 to 1859 he published the essays which won him renown 
as a stylist. In 1860 he went on a mission to Phoenicia and 
Syria, out of which came his various biblical studies. The 
Franco-Prussian War revived his interest in French political 
problems, but his work of the 1870's was marred, as James 
notes, by disillusionment and excessive irony. 

10 The salon of Marie de Flavigny, Countess d'Agoult 
(1805-1876), had been the rendezvous of the celebrities of 
her time* Her liaison with Franz Liszt was notorious. She 
wrote historical and philosophical works, expressing her ideas 
with forthrightness and energy. 

"Louise Revoil Colet (1810-1876) wrote chiefly poetry, 
but was better known for her beauty and her amours with 
Cousin, Villemain, Musset, and, above all, Flaubert. Lui, her 

Parisian Sketches 

novel about Musset, was published in 1859. George Sand's 
Lui et Elle came out in the same year. 


1 This letter was revised by James and reprinted in Por- 
traits of Places, 1883. 

2 General Marceau of the First Republic was Fra^ois Mar- 
ceau Desgraviers (1769-1796), 


1 "Cham" was the pseudonym of Am6d6e de No (1819- 
1879), prolific and spirited cartoonist. He published a num- 
ber of albums in which the history of the ideas, manners, 
politics, art, and literature of the preceding era were ren- 
dered "avec une legere myopie conservatrice." 

Honore Daumier (1808-1879), the greatest of all French 
caricaturists, raised this medium to the level of art. 

2 The second exhibition of the Impressionists comprised 252 
paintings, pastels, water colors, drawings, and etchings by 
20 exhibitors. Degas was represented by 24) works; Monet 
18; Berthe Morisot 17, and Renoir 15. The French press was 
violent in its denunciation of the exhibit. Albert Wolff of Le 
Figaro said: "It is a frightening spectacle of human vanity 
gone astray to the point of madness." 

The enlightened patronage of Durand-Ruel, who supplied 
moral as well as financial support, resulted in most of the Im- 
pressionists' shunning the Salon, from which they would 
doubtless have been rejected in any case. Public disapproval 
of their art usually took the form (as with James) of finding 
their subjects "ugly," but the actual basis of Impressionist 



experimentation was, in reality, essentially technical: they 
were interested in the study of light, using a commalike brush 
stroke to create more of nature the sunny air, the character 
of the hour, etc. Zola, interestingly enough, called them natu- 
ralists for this reason. The definition given by one of Renoir's 
friends at this time, "treating a subject in terms of its tone 
and not; of the subject itself," perhaps best describes their 

It is interesting that James, who himself came to be in- 
creasingly absorbed by "tone" (in so far as this is represented 
in fiction through isolation of point of view), should have 
failed to grasp the relationship between the subject matter 
of the Impressionists and their manner of rendering it. He 
did eventually, however, make his peace with the "intransi- 
gents." In a notable passage in The American Scene, describ- 
ing a visit in 19045 to a Connecticut house hung with "won- 
drous examples of Manet, Degas, of Claude Monet, of Whis- 
tler ..." James proclaimed that "no proof of the sovereign 
power of art could have been . , . sharper. It made every- 
thing else shrivel and fade : it was like the sudden trill of the 
nightingale. ..." 

3 The opening of Jeanne d'Arc by Auguste Mermet (1810 
1889) was on April 5, 1876, and is memorable as the first new 
work to be produced in the new Paris Opera House. (Marie) 
Gabrielle Krauss (1842-1906) made her debut in Paris at 
the Theatre Italien in II Trovatore, April 6, 1867. She ac- 
cepted an engagement at the Paris Opera in 1874, where she 
made her debut in La Juive in 1875. In time she became as 
great an actress as singer; the French called her "La Rachel 

4 Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) first won no- 
tice as literary critic of Le Globe. A favorable article on 
Victor Hugo brought him into close friendship and literary 
association with the leader of the French Romantic move- 

249. \ 

Parisian Sketches 

ment. In 1828 he published his comprehensive study of the 
poets of the Pl&ade, the ancestors of the Romantic poets. He 
also published poetry and romantic fiction of his own. In 
1837 he went to Switzerland and began his monumental study 
of the Jansenist movement. Appointed to the chair of litera- 
ture at the University of Liege, in Belgium, he undertook a 
study of Chateaubriand which aroused wide controversy. His 
various articles dealing with significant contemporary and 
earlier writers solidly established him as a literary critic. 
These essays were collected under the titles : Critiques et Por- 
traits Litteraires, Portraits Litteraires, Portraits Contempo- 
rains, Causeries du Lundi, and Nouveaux Lundis. 

Sainte-Beuve was a founder of modern literary criticism, 
developing a historical approach (set forth as a doctrine in 
his article on Chateaubriand in 1862) in which the literary 
work must not be considered apart from the writer and in 
which careful research into biography is therefore essential. 
The various posthumous volumes which were appearing were 
collections of Sainte-Beuve's articles for various Parisian 

5 James's attitude toward the "posthumous rummaging" of 
table drawers echoes his comments on the publication of Haw- 
thorne's notebooks, when he wondered about "the proper lim- 
its of curiosity" and observed that artists "will be likely to 
take alarm, empty their table-drawers, and level the ap- 
proaches to their privacy. The critics, psychologists, and gos- 
sip-mongers may then glean amid the stubble." 

*mile Zola (1840-1902) was to found the naturalist 
school of fiction and to write his Rougon-Macquart series 
(1871-1893), a group of twenty novels which traces the 
"natural" and social history of a family under the Second 
Empire. Although James continued to have reservations about 
him, he ultimately came to have great respect for his achieve- 
ment. The identification of Zola with Flaubert (1821-1880) 
probably resulted from James's meeting Zola in Flaubert's 

* 250 


circle. It also reflects the controversy over Madame Bovary 
(1856-1857), for which Flaubert had been accused (and ac- 
quitted) of immorality. The book was hailed as a masterpiece 
of realism. By 1876 Flaubert had published his revised ver- 
sions of L'Education Sentimentale and La Tentation de St. 
Antoine, but James's reaction to Flaubert was as much in 
terms of his realism as of his stylistic innovations. 


1 The artists viewed by James in this review of the Salon 
of 1876 were: Paul Gustave Dore (1833-1883), history 
painter and designer; Xavier Alphonse Monchablon (1835- 
1907), history and portrait painter, winner of the Grand Prix 
de Rome in 1863; Jean Baptiste Philippe Emile Bin (1825- 
1897), history painter and decorator of public and private 
buildings; Paul Joseph Blanc (18461905), genre painter; 
Valerico Lacetti (1836-1909), history and genre painter; 
Joseph Noel Sylvestre (18471926), history, genre, and por- 
trait painter, winner of the Prize of the Salon of 1876; Albert 
Aublet (1851-1937(?)); Jean Baptiste fidouard Detaille 
(18481912), one of the most popular contemporary paint- 
ers; Michel Munkacsy (Michael Lieb) (1844-1909), history, 
genre, and portrait painter; and Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848 
1884), who had won universal approbation the year previ- 
ously for his "Annunciation." 


1 The artists whose works James notes here were: fimile- 
Auguste Carolus-Duran (1838-1917), portrait painter and 
sculptor; Paul Baudry (1828-1886) (see Letter 1); Alexan- 

* 251 * 

Parisian Sketches 

dre Cabanel (1824-1889), whose reputation had been made 
in 1845 with his tableau, "Jesus dans le Pre*toire"; Charles 
Chaplin (1825-1891), noted for his charming paintings of 
young girls; Edouard Jacquemart (n6e Nelie Andre) (1841 
1912), noted for her portraits of leaders in society and 
politics, winner of medals at the Salons of 1868, 1869, 
and 1870; Alexei Charlamoff (also spelled Harlamoff) (1842- 
(?)), product of the Academy of Beaux Arts in Petersburg 
and student of Bonnant in Paris; George Clarin (1843 
1919), whose portrait of Sarah Bernhardt in this Salon made 
a great sensation; Louise Abb6ma (1858-1927), young pupil 
of Chaplin and Carolus-Duran, whose portrait of Sarah 
Bernhardt also created a tremendous impression at the Salon ; 
L6on-Joseph Bonnant (1834-1923), famous for his portraits 
of such notables as Hugo, Thiers, Benan, Felix Faure, and 
winner of the medal of the Salon of 1869; Antoine Vollon 
(18331900), regarded as one of the petits maitres in land- 
scape painting and particularly relished by James; William 
Adolphe Bouguereau (18251905), one of the most prolific 
French painters, whose strenuous schedule of output led to a 
superficiality which James found "perverse" ; Jehan Georges 
Vibert (18401902), whose specialty was the depiction of 
the trivial lapses of the clergy, humorously viewed; Karl- 
Pierre Daubigny (18461885), one of the most charming 
landscapists of this period; Fran9ois-Louis Fransais (1814- 
1897), famous landscapist, whose "Le Miroir de Scey" and 
"Portrait of M.B." were shown at this Salon; Joseph Chel- 
monski (1850-1914), Russian landscapist, who submitted two 
scenes of the Ukraine to this Salon and whom James believed 
to have followed the famous Dutch landscapist Salomon van 
Ruysdael (1600-1670); Edward Harrison May (1824-1887), 
pupil of Huntington in New York and of Couture in Paris ; 
Henry Bacon (1839-1912), born in Massachusetts, pupil of 
Cabanel and Fr&re; Edgar Melville Ward (1839-1915), born 

252 * 


in Ohio, pupil of Cabanel; Frederic Arthur Bridgman (1847- 
(?)), from New York, pupil of Gerome; Paul Dubois (1829- 
1905), the distinguished sculptor of the 1860's and 1870's, 
who won the medal of honor in the Salon of 1867 and whose 
figures were admired for their representation of ideal beauty; 
and Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), the actress, who had stud- 
ied sculpture with Gustave Dore and who won honorable 
mention for her work in this exhibit. 


1 Kenan's Dialogues Philosophiques, written in 1871, re- 
veals a disenchanted temper, but the struggles of democratic 
France for survival roused Renan to take a more affirmative 
attitude in later works. 

2 Jules Michelet, the historian, died on February 9, 1874. 
He was first buried at Hyeres, according to his last wishes 
expressed to his wife on his deathbed, but the civil tribunal 
of Seine ordered (in August 1875) that his body be exhumed 
and given a more appropriate final resting place in Paris. He 
was buried in the cemetery d'Est May 17, 1876. 

8 Paul-Armand Challemel-Lacour (1827-1896), philosopher 
and politician, friend of Gambetta and Prefect of Rhone in 

4 Gabriel Paul d'Haussonville (1843-1924), politician and 
prolific writer on social and literary subjects, published in 
1875 the life of Sainte-Beuve to which James alludes. He was 
elected to the Academy in 1888. 

5 Germaine de Stael (1766-1817) was born Anne Louise 
Germaine Necker and married a Swedish diplomat, Baron 
Stael-Holstein. Her salon and her unconventional love affairs 
were famous. Her novel Corinne (1807) was widely read. 
Her principal work was De I'Allemagne (1811), which con- 


Parisian Sketches 

tributed to tlie spread of German romanticism. Her opposition 
to Napoleon caused her exile from Paris to Switzerland. 

6 Sully-Prudhomme (Rene Fra^ois Armand) (1839-1907), 
poet. He was elected member of the Academy in 1881 and 
won the Nobel Prize in 1901. 

7 The Salon of the Refuses, 1876, included the work of those 
Impressionists who had submitted paintings to the Salon and 
had been rejected. Among these, but unmentioned by James, 
was Manet's "Artist, Portrait of Marcellin Desbourtier." 

8 James Fair man, Scottish- American landscape painter 
(1826-1904), traveled to Europe in 1871 and remained 
abroad for ten years but exhibited without success. 


1 Ximenes Doudan (1800-1872) served as secretary to Vic- 
tor de Broglie, Minister of Education. The correspondence of 
Doudan was published under the title Melanges et Lettres de 
Doudan, 1876. James speaks of having "marked a great many 
passages for quotation," and the volumes, preserved in Henry 
James's library up to the time of its dispersal give proof of 

2 The "dark clouds in the East" is a reference to events in 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, which led to a new Russo-Turkish 
War, 1877-1878. 

5 Jean Baptiste Dumas (1800-1884) replaced the historian 
Fran9ois Guizot, who died in 1874. 

4 At the "feast of vocalism" represented by Verdi's A'ida 
and Requiem, James heard: Rosine Stoltz (18151903), 
mezzo-soprano; Maria Waldmann (1844-1920), Austrian 
mezzo-soprano, who had become famous as Amneris in the 
first Italian performance of A'ida and for whom Verdi subse- 
quently wrote the mezzo-soprano part in the Requiem; Paolo 



Medini (1831-1911), who sang leading roles in such operas 
as Norma, Don Carlos, and Higoletto; and Angelo Masini 
(1844-1926), the first of the younger tenors of Italy. 

6 James had spoken about George Sand that winter with 
Turgenev and Flaubert. 


George Sand (Aurore Lucille Dupin) (1804-1876). This 
letter was reprinted in French Poets and Novelists, 1878. 
James wrote at least seven papers and reviews of the work 
of George Sand, the three most important being collected in 
Notes on Novelists (1914). 


1 This account of Rouen was revised and reprinted in Por- 
traits of Places, 1883. 

2 The old center of Rouen was destroyed in World War II, 
particularly in 1944 in the battle for the Seine crossings. The 
cathedral (1 202-20), which has three very beautiful towers, 
an impressive nave, and a choir, transepts, and portals of 
great distinction, was severely damaged, especially on the 
south side. St. Ouen Church (1318-39), with a fine choir, 
escaped any considerable war damage. 

8 James incorrectly identifies one of the two cardinals. 
George II d'Amboise (1488-1550), nephew of George I 
d'Amboise (1460-1510), was attached to the Duke of Orleans, 
minister and counselor of Louis XII. 

Parisian Sketches 


1 This letter was revised and reprinted in Portraits of 
Places, 1883. 

2 Alphonse Karr (1808-1890), "celebrity" of fitretat, was 
a writer of romantic novels. 

3 Offenbach had retired to fitretat after a fabulously suc- 
cessful career. James's reference to his "not shaking his legs 
and making play with his eyes" refers to the gestures of 
performers in his operettas, especially the movements of the 

4 Mile. X, the actress of the Palais Royal, was probably 
Celine Chaumont, to whom James had referred in some of 
his earlier letters. 


Abb&na, Louise, 150, 252 
Adams, Henry, xx 
Allard, Eoger, 242 
Atlantic Monthly, The, 233 
Aublet, Albert, 140-41, 251 
Aumale, Due d', 242 

Bacon, Henry, 155, 252 
Baillet, Ernest, 110-11, 247 
Balzac, Honor 6 de, xiv 
Barodet, Desire, 75, 241 
Barriere, Theodore, 236 
Barye, Louis, xx, xxvi, 14-19, 

Bastien-Lepage, Jules, 145 

47, 251 
Baudry, Paul, 11, 71, 148, 

230, 251 
Becq de Fouqui&res, Louis, 

70, 240 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 87, 149- 

50, 155-56, 165, 230, 

242-43, 252, 253 
Berton, Pierre, 53, 236 
Bin, Jean Baptiste, 138, 251 
Blanc, Joseph, 75, 138-39, 

240, 251 

Bloqueville, Marquise de, 242 
Boldini, Jean, xxi, 111-12, 


Bonheur, Rosa, 110, 246 

Bonnat, Leon-Joseph, 150, 

Bouguereau, William 
Adolphe, 152, 252 

Brascassat, Jacques Ray- 
mond, 110, 246 

Bridgman, Frederic Arthur, 
155, 253 

Buffet, Louis, 54, 56-57, 58, 
77-78, 83, 84, 242 

Cabanel, Alexandre, 148, 152, 


Camargo, Marie, 91, 243 
Carolus-Duran, Emile- 

Auguste, 21, 148, 232, 

Carpeaux, Jean-Baptiste, xx, 

20-21, 231 

Carrier de Belleuse, Albert- 
Ernest, 22, 232 
Carvalho, Mme. (Marie Mio- 

lan), 10, 230 
Century Magazine^ 243 
Challemel-Lacour, Paul Ar- 

mand, 163, 253 
"Cham" (Am&lee de No), 

128, 248 
Chaplin, Charles, xxi, 148, 



Chapu, Henri, 22, 232 
Charlamoff, Alexei, 149, 252 
Chauinont, Celine, 4, 47, 204, 

229, 235, 256 
Chelmonski, Joseph, 154-55, 


Cherbuliez, Victor, 237 
Cheri, Rose, 45 
Chevaliers de U Patrie, 100-2 
Clairin, George, 149, 252 
Colet, Louise, 113-14, 247 
Commune, the, 57, 237 
Cook, Clarence, xxvi 
Coquelin, Benoit Constant, 

89, 243 

Cortissoz, Royal, 209 
Creole, La, 46-47, 235 
Croizette, Sophie Alexan- 
drine, 89, 165 
Cruche Ca$$ee,La, 46-47, 235 

Danicheff, Les, 58-61, 238 
Daubigny, Karl-Pierre, 154, 


Daudet, Alphonse, xiv, 237 
Daumier, Honor, 128, 248 
Decamps, Alexandre, xx, xxi, 

105, 106-7, 108, 245 
D6j azet, Pauline Virginia, 22, 

81, 232 
Delacroix, Eugene, 72-73, 

105, 108, 240 
Delaunay, Louis-Arsfcne, 50- 

51, 67, 235 

Delpit, Albert, 100, 245 
Desclee, Aimee Olympe, 45, 

Detaille, Jean Baptiste, 141 

42, 251 

Dickens, Charles, x 
Dore, Gustave, 137-38, 251 
Dorval, Madame (Marie 

Thomas Delaunay), 45, 

Doudan, Xim&nes, 168-74, 


Droz, Gustave, 237 
Dubois, Paul, 155, 175, 253 
Dumas, Alexandra, fils, xxiii, 

7, 58, 59, 86-91, 97, 176, 

181, 229, 230, 237, 238, 

Dumas, Jean Baptiste, 174, 

Durand-Ruel Gallery, xix, 

131, 167, 248 

Emerson, R. W,, xxiii, 239 
Qtra,ngere t L', 7, 86-91, 230, 

F airman, James, 166, 254 
Faure, Jean-Baptiste, 10, 

133, 230 

Favart, Marie, 67, 289 
Febvre, Alexandre-Fr^d^ric,, 

90, 243 
Ferreol, 8, 49-51, 230 


Figaro, Le, 8, 230 
Flandrin, Jean Hippolyte, 

xxi, 240 
Flaubert, Gustave, xiv, xv, 

135, 152, 237, 242, 247, 

250-51, 255 
Flavigny, Marie de (Countess 

d'Agoult), 113-14, 247 
Fouquiferes, Becq de. See 

Becq de Fouqui&res 
Fran9ais, Fran9ois-Louis, 

154, 252 
French Academy, 93, 94, 95, 

96, 97, 244 
Fullerton, W. Morton, xxxv 

Galaxy, The, xiv 

Gallicisms, 241 

Gambetta, L6on, 75-76, 84- 

85, 236, 241 

Garnier, Jean-Joseph, 229 
Garrick, David, 4>6 
Ger6me, Jean Leon, 98-99, 

106, 108-9, 151-52, 244 
Giordano, Luca, 10, 230 
Girardin, Emile de, 78-81, 


Godkin, E. L., 223 
Goncourt, Edmond de, xiv, 


Gondinet, Edmond, 236 
Got, Fran9ois Jules Edmond, 

82, 242 
Greeley, Horace, xi 

Grisi, Carlotta, 91, 243 
Guizot, Fraiujois, 174, 254 

Harlamoff, Alexei. See Char- 


Harper's Weekly, ix, xxxv 
Harvard College, vi 
Haussonville, Gabriel Paul d', 

163, 253 
Hay, John, xii, 209-11, 212, 

214, 215 
Herve (Florimond Ronge), 

46, 235 

Holstein, Baron, 245 
Houdon, Jean-Antoine, 21, 


Houghton Library, v 
Houssaye, Arsene, xii, xxv 

xxvi, 210, 213, 214 
Howells, William Dean, xiv, 

Hugo, Victor, 64-67, 85, 181, 

238, 249 
Huntington, William H., xv, 


Impressionism, xxi-xxii, 131 

32, 248-49 
Irving, Henry, 46, 47, 234 

Jacquemart, Edouard, 149, 


James, Alice (sister), 242 
James, Henry (father), xvi, 
222, 239 



James, Henry, works men- 
The American, xiv, xxii, 

The American Scene, xxii, 


"Broken Wings," xxxiii 
"The Death of the Lion/' 


"The Figure in the Car- 
pet/' xxxvii 

"French Poets and Novel- 
ists, 255 

The Golden Bowl, 244 
Guy Domville, xxxi-xxxii 
"The Madonna of the Fu- 
ture/' 231 
"The Next Time/' xxxii- 


"The Papers/' xxxiii 
The Portrait of a Lady, 

xxxi, 244 
Portraits of Places, xvii, 

248, 255, 256 

The Reverberator, x, xxxvii 
A Small Boy and Others, 


James, William, xvi, xxx 
James, William (nephew), v 
Janin, Jules, 93-94, 244 
Journal des D&bats, 75, 93, 

94, 96, 230, 243, 244 
Judic, Anna Marie Louise, 

47, 235 
Judith, (Mme.), xi 

Karr, Alphonse, 200, 256 
Kean, Edmund, 11-12, 46, 


Kemble, Charles, 46, 234 
Khedive's shares, 108, 246 
Krauss, (Marie) Gabrielle, 

133, 249 

Laccetti, Valerico, 139, 251 
Lachaud, Georges, 80-81, 

Lamartine, Alphonse de, 67, 


Laugel, Auguste, xv 
Lecocq, Alexandre, 46, 235, 

238, 243 

Legouve", Ernest, 68, 239 
Lemaitre, Fr6d6ric, 12, 45, 

81-82, 231, 234 
Lemoinne, John, 93-98, 243 
Leterrier, E., 238 
Liszt, Franz von, 114, 247 
Literature, ix 

MacMahon, Marshal, 57, 232, 


Maitre Patelin, 82, 242 
Marceau, General, 122, 248 
Marilhat, Prosper-Georges- 

Antoine, 107-8, 246 
Mars, Mile. (Anne Fran$oise 

Hippolyte), 45, 234 
Masini, Angelo, 175, 255 
Maupassant, Guy de, xiv, 287 



May, Edward Harrison, 155, Paris Opera House, 6, 8-10, 


Medini, Paolo, 175, 255 
Meissonier, Ernest, xx, 33- 

39, 105, 106, 109-10, 


M6rime*e, Prosper, 179 
Mermet, Auguste, 133, 249 
Michelet, Jules, 162-64*, 253 
Millet, Jean Fra^ois, xxi, 

105, 240 
Monehablon, Xavier Al- 

phonse, 138, 251 
Moreau, Gustave, 152, 153, 

Mounet-Sully, Jean, 67-68, 

Munkacsy, Michel, xxi, 142- 

45, 251 
Musset, Alfred de, 114, 179, 


Nation, The, 233, 238 
Newsky, Pierre, 59, 238 
New York Tribune. See 

Ode*on Theater, 21, 232 
Offenbach, Jacques, 46, 200- 
1, 235, 256 

PaiUeron, Edmond, 51, 235 
Palais Royal Theater, 236 
Panache, Le, 52, 236 

229, 249 

Paul, John, xv, xxvi, 211 
Perry, Thomas Sergeant, 237 
Petite Mariee, La, 66, 238 
Pierson, Blanche, 53, 236 
Pils, Isidore, 70-72, 240 
Plessy, Jeanne Arnould-, 51 

52, 164-65, 235 
PMLA, v 

Potter, Paul, 110, 246-47 
Presse, La, 230 

Rachel (Elisa Felix), xi, 45, 


Realism, 15, 231, 237, 251 
Refuses, 166, 254 
Reid, Mrs. Helen Rogers, v 
Reid, Whitelaw, xii, xiii, xvi, 

xxiv xxxii, xxxiv, 209 

27, 244 
Renan, Ernest, xv, xix, 113, 

157-62, 173, 181-82, 

247, 253 
Rossi, Ernesto, 11, 46, 47 

49, 61-63, 230, 235, 238 
Rousseau, Pierre-fitienne, 

, 105, 246 
Ruskin, John, xxii, 45 

Saint e-Beuve, Charles Aa- 
gustin, xix, 134-35, 162, 
169, 174-86, 249-50 

Salon des Refuse's. See 



Sand, George, xxii, 162, 176- 

86, 248, 255 

Sarcey, Francisque, 69, 239 
Sardou, Victorian, xxiii, 8, 49, 

Scandales d'Hier, Les, 53, 


Scherer, Edmond, 237 
Schoenewerk, Alexander, 22, 

Smalley, George W., 211, 213, 

214, 216, 220, 221, 222 
Stael, Germaine de, 163, 169, 

170, 253 

Stern, Daniel. See Flavigny 
Stewart, A. T., 33, 111, 233 
Stoltz, Rosine, 175, 254 
Strauss, Johann, xx 
Sully-Prudhomme (Rene 

Francis Armand), 164- 

65, 254 

Sweeney, John L., v, xxii 
Sylvestre, Joseph Noel, 139 

40, 251 

Thomas, Ambroise, 10, 230 
Timbale d' Argent, 66, 238 
Tissot, Victor, 102-3, 245 
Tribune, New York, v, ix~ 

xxxvii (passim), 20927, 


Trollope, Anthony, 213 
Turgenev, Ivan, xiii, xv, 113, 

127, 237, 255 

Varietes, 236 

Verdi, Giuseppe, xx, 174, 

175, 254 

Vernet, Horace, 240 
Vibert, Georges, 153, 252 
Vollon, Antoine, xxi, 150-51, 


Wade, Allan, v 
Waldmann, Maria, 175, 254 
Wallace, Richard, 34, 234 
Ward, Edgar, 155, 252 
Worms, Gustave Hippolyte, 
50-51, 82, 235 

Taine, Hippolyte, 24, 28-32, Yellow "Book, The, xxxiii 


Talma, Fran9ois Joseph, 44, Zola, fimile, xiv, xix, xxiv, 

46, 234 135, 235, 237, 250-51